Washington, D.C. (PMN)--U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) received an award from the Polish American Congress (PAC) on December 5, 2006, for his work on behalf of the members of the Polish-American community. The award was presented at a meeting held in Durbin's U.S. Capitol office with PAC President Frank Spula. At today's meeting, the Durbin discussed several issues important to the Polish American community, including immigration reform, student exchange programs, and business relations between Poland and the United States.

From Casmir Pulaski who played a pivotal role in the American Revolution to legendary artists like Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Polish people have been instrumental and inspiring figures," said Durbin. "I am honored to receive this award and will continue to work with my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help the Polish-American community."

Durbin sponsored several legislative initiatives of interest to the Polish community in the 109th Congress. In September, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington D.C. Durbin sponsored a resolution expressing continued support for the project in May, 2005. Durbin also sponsored a resolution requesting honorary citizenship for Casmir Pulaski, as well as resolutions commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the birth of Solidarity and recognizing the accomplishments of Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

The PAC encompasses 3,000 Polish organizations across the country and is based in Chicago. The Polish American community also has a large presence in the Illinois National Guard, which has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Polish Air Force and has recently completed a series of training events with pilots and enlisted members of the PAF.

At the meeting with Spula, Durbin discussed the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Earlier this year, Durbin successfully worked with the PAC and the Ambassador to Poland to include the Visa Waiver Program in the Senate passed immigration bill, S.2611. The Visa Waiver Program (as yet unimplemented by the Administration in regard to Poland) waives visa requirements for short stays, primarily for tourists. The waiver is aimed at assisting counties such as Poland that are members of the EU and contribute to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-nine countries are currently participating in this program.


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