Polish American Congress
spurs Visa Waiver Resolution in Arizona

May 11, 2007 - The Polish American Congress, Arizona division has had the opportunity to send a signal to the lawmakers in Washington, D.C. that the Polish community in Arizona is united behind the concept of changing the Visa Waiver Program within the USCIS. Led by President Nick Horchem, the Polish American Congress of Arizona has drawn attention to the Polish visa waiver cause by recruiting the efforts of State Representative John Kavanagh of Arizona, a brother Knight of the Knights of Columbus, to introduce a resolution before the Arizona Legislature demanding a immigration reform. Rep. John Kavanagh introduced House Resolution HCR 2007 (“Resolution”) before the Arizona House of Representatives which sent a signal to the Secretary of State of the United States, and both Houses of Congress that Poland should be part of the visa waiver program.

In the mean time, the Polish American Congress actively recruited both those of Polish origin and of other ethnicities to sign a petition in support of the Resolution. The Resolution was introduced before the House Committee on Homeland Security for debate. Lukas Grabiec, current 1st Vice-President of the Polish American Congress, presented the case for the Poles of Arizona before the Legislature. He alluded to the fact that Poland is one of the closest allies of the United States in Europe and worldwide. As a member of European Union, Poland is a free-market economy, and Poland’s integration within the European structure has had a stabilizing effect on its economy. The diplomatic, political, military and economic status of Poland has never been better in history. He commented, however, that personal contact between families of ordinary individuals is lagging behind because of the burdensome process of obtaining visas for those wishing to visit relatives in this country and those wishing to come here as tourists. Polish citizens have to go through long, capricious, complicated and expensive processes to obtain visas to come to the U.S. Mr. Grabiec mentioned that since the Solidarity Movement led by Lech Walesa spearheaded the downfall of Communism in Europe in 1989, Poland has undergone great social political and economic changes and is a nation committed to traditional values, rules of law, freedom and democracy, the same values as in the U.S. He stated that on April 15, 1991 Poland unilaterally repealed its visa obligations for U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Poland for a period of ninety days. This repeal has not yet been reciprocated.

His comments and those of Rep. John Kavanagh were met positively before the committee which voted unanimously that the Resolution should be passed. This success did not stop as both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Resolution on February 12, 2007 and April 2, 2007 respectively. This unicameral piece of legislation has been passed on to the respective parties in Washington D.C. As a result, the Arizona Polish community has displayed and demonstrated a united voice behind the much needed changes in the immigration laws of the U.S.

On April 29, 2007 the Polish American Congress, Arizona division was able to celebrate this success during its annual spring picnic whereby Rep. John Kavanagh presented the Polish American Congress with an official framed print of the legislation passed. During this picnic the Poles of Arizona were able to thank Rep. Kavanagh for his work for the Polish community.

Lukasz Grabiec
1st Vice-President Polish American Congress Arizona

See also: State Resolutions for Including Poland in Visa Waiver Program

 
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