Kosciuszko Foundation President Storozynski’s statement to Judiciary Committee
Congressman Mike Quigley, sponsor of legislation to include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program, today testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Congressman Quigley’s office asked Kosciuszko Foundation President Alex Storozynski for a letter to present a letter during the hearing to Chairman Lamar Smith. Below is the text of that letter.
Dear Congressman Smith,
Thank you for allowing representatives of the ten million Polish-Americans to express their opinions on the Visa Waiver Program, (VWP). For too long, the United States has treated our friends and families in Poland as second class citizens requiring them to pay hefty fees to apply for visas to visit this country, while Europeans from other countries travel here without visas.
American Consulates in Poland deny the same visa applicants over and over, thus driving up the visa refusal rate to an artificially high level. I personally know many educated and professional people in Poland, who could easily get visas, but are boycotting the United States and instead spend their tourist and shopping dollars in countries where they are welcome. Poland is part of the “Schengen Area” of 25 European nations that allows passport-free travel across borders.
Because Poland is a productive member of NATO and the European Union, its citizens do not need to come to the United States to find work. In fact, during the current economic crisis in Europe, Poland has been a shining example of how to keep its economy moving because it does not have the debt problems of the Eurozone. There is no real empirical evidence showing that Poles overstay their welcome in the United States at levels higher than countries such as Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and other nations that have been included in the VWP.
Poland’s exclusion from the VWP is an embarrassment for Congress. Poland is one of America’s greatest allies and has fought for freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan and always supports the United States. Poles pose no terrorist threat to America, and allowing Poles to visit the United States as tourists would encourage international trade and pump tourism dollars into our economy. By refusing visa free travel for Poles, the United States is pushing away one of its closest allies. Allowing Poles to travel without visas will add to our security and enhance law enforcement and crime-fighting efforts through data-sharing agreements between our respective countries. It is high time to include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program
President & Executive Director