• Information from the NPR about the Polish Visa Waiver Program

    Interesting read from the NPR!

    http://www.npr.org/2015/09/05/437873853/left-out-of-visa-waiver-program-polish-visitors-ask-why-not-us

  • Poland !!! Yes. Polska !!! Tak.

  • Kirk-Mikulski Amendment to Allow Polish Citizens Visa-Free Travel to U.S. Passes Committee

    Homeland Security Funding Bill with Bipartisan Kirk-Mikulski Provision to Allow Poland’s Inclusion in Visa Waiver Program Heads to Senate Floor

     Including Key Democratic Ally Poland in Program Would Boost Tourism to Chicago

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today led a successful effort to include bipartisan legislation allowing Polish citizens visa-free travel to the U.S. in the fiscal year 2016 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill. The Appropriations Committee approved in a voice vote Senator Kirk’s amendment, which would allow DHS to include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

    “With nearly one million Illinois residents with Polish ancestry, our doors should be open to Polish citizens who want to visit our state,” Senator Kirk said. “The Kirk-Mikulski amendment brings us closer to eliminating unnecessary red tape for Polish visitors and treating Poland the same way we treat our other democratic allies.”

    Senator Kirk has also introduced S.1507, bipartisan legislation with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) earlier this month. The amendment would give the secretary of DHS the discretion to include Poland and other allies in the VWP, allowing their citizens up to 90 days of visa-free travel to the United States, if they meet certain requirements. Currently 38 countries, including 30 in Europe, are part of the VWP, but outdated requirements exclude Poland, a key democratic ally.

    According to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), direct spending in the United States from visiting travelers totaled $888 billion in 2013 and helped employ 7.9 million Americans. The VWP was responsible for more than 19.5 million travelers who visited the United States in 2013. An average overseas visitor will spend $4,300 in the U.S. per trip. Expanding the VWP to include Poland would boost tourism to Chicago, the home of more citizens of Polish descent than any city in the world outside Warsaw

    Senator Kirk has long been a staunch supporter of Poland and advocate for U.S.-Polish relations. He was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in 2012. Senator Kirk has worked toward passing legislation to expand the VWP to include Poland and has fought to strengthen U.S.-Polish cooperation on ballistic missile defense.

    The fiscal year 2016 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act was approved by the Appropriations Committee by a bipartisan vote of 26 to 4 and now heads to the Senate floor.

  • New Amendment to Include Poland into the Visa Waiver Program


    U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2016 Homeland Security appropriations bill that would authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to admit Poland as a program country under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

    Read the entire press release on Mike Quigley’s website and make sure to become or renew your membership today to make sure we continue the fight as long as it takes to happen!

    We want to hear your opinion on the Illinois budget concerns!

    The debate on the Illinois budget has hit a wall between Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner. The only thing both sides can agree on is that Illinois is severely in debt and is the worst financially run state in the country.

    Both sides offering differing solutions to the problem. Michael Madigan has proposed a budget that is $4 billion out of balance while making sure legislators get paid even without a budget. He also earmarked a $35 million dollar school in his district while Chicago schools are closing left and right. 

    Bruce Rauner believes that Illinois cannot keep kicking the ball down the road and cuts to state programs are inevitable and a must. Just as private individuals need to cut their expenses when credit card debt becomes excessive, so does the State of Illinois. He also believes in freezing property taxes, calling for term limits for legislators, and reforming the workers compensation system.

    We want to know from you…

    With whom do you side with during the Illinois budget debate? (Click to vote)
    Bruce Rauner
    Michael Madigan

    Stay tuned to our Facebook Fan Page to see the results!

  • Mikulski Announces Visa Waiver Legislation is Included in the Senate Appropriations Committee Passage of Homeland Security Legislation

    U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) announced today that language to modernize the Visa Waiver Program to include Poland and other key allies has been included  in the 2015 Homeland Security spending bill. The bill was approved by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the fiscal year 2015. We commend the Senator for making sure the language has again been included in the 2015 Homeland Security appropriations.

    The next step for the language to stay included in any appropriations handed out to the Department of Homeland Security is to include similar language in the bill being discussed in the House Committee on Appropriations. That bill, H.R. 4903: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015, has just been introduced into the House.

    If you would like the language for Poland to be included into the Visa Waiver Program to stay included, please contact your congressperson today. The best way to get attention drawn to this issue is to call, you can do so by clicking “call Congress”on this pageYou can also contact your congressperson via the internet by using the Piast Institute’s Initiative website as well. Make sure to tell them that to include language that would allow Poland entry into the Visa Waiver Program within the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

    Together, Our Voice Will Be Heard!

     

    The full press release can be found below or on facebook here;

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    June 26, 2014
    CONTACTS:
    Matt Jorgenson
    Alanna Wellspeak
    202-228-1122

     
    MIKULSKI ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF HOMELAND SECURITY LEGISLATION WHICH INCLUDES VISA WAIVER LEGISLATION

    Provision would provide Visa Waiver path for Poland and other key allies

     

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced Committee passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Homeland Security spending bill. The legislation includes language to modernize the existing Visa Waiver Program (VWP), providing a path for participation from Poland and other strong U.S. Allies excluded under current law. The provision mirrors the Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act, which was introduced earlier this Congress bySenators Mikulski and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), as well as companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs).

    “Today’s action to improve the Visa Waiver Program will create and sustain American jobs. It strengthens our alliances, enhances our security and allows millions to visit the United States and spend their money here,” said Senator Mikulski, Co-Chair of the Senate Caucus on Poland. “Poland has been a steadfast and true ally. A grandmother from Gdansk shouldn’t need a visa to visit her grandkids in Baltimore. I’ll continue to fight to ensure that we expand this important program in a way that keeps our borders secure while allowing travelers who want nothing other than to see family, conduct business, or tour our great country to do so without going through a long and expensive process.”

    The Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform provision would require applicant countries to maintain an average non-immigrant visa overstay rate not greater than 3 percent while giving the Secretary of Homeland Security flexibility to waive this requirement in cases where a country’s participation does not pose a threat to law enforcement, security, or immigration laws under the condition that the applicant country is cooperating fully with the U.S. in fighting terrorism. It would authorize the Secretary to place a member country on probation if their overstay rate exceeds three percent, sending a strong message to current program members that the United States is serious about ensuring the VWP is a strong component of our security.

    Senator Mikulski has long been an advocate for enhancing the VWP. The Mikulski-Kirk legislation requires the applicant country to have a visa refusal rate not greater than three percent at the time of application into the VWP to ensure a mutual exchange with the United States. It authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to include countries into the program if they meet all United States security standards and have a refusal rate below 10 percent, based on the total number of individual applicants. The legislation also directs the Comptroller General to review the Department of Homeland Security’s methods detecting visa overstays.

    President Obama publically endorsed the expansion of the VWP in an effort to strengthen America’s tourism economy by creating and sustaining jobs. He reaffirmed his support during a trip to Poland [View President Obama’s Letter]. The bill has the support of the US Travel Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the National Retail Federation.

    Currently, citizens of 38 nations around the world are eligible to participate in the VWP, which allows foreign visitors to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.  Outdated requirements exclude Poland, a strong democratic ally, from the VWP despite allowing U.S. tourists to travel visa-free since 1991.

    In the next step of the appropriations process, the bill will move to the Senate floor for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

    # # #

     

     

  • Kirk, Mikulski, 15 Senators Urge Obama to Strengthen Commitment to Poland

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Danielle Varallo (202) 228-3853 (Kirk)
    Rachel MacKnight (202) 228-1122 (Mikulski)

    Kirk, Mikulski, 15 Senators Urge Obama to Strengthen Commitment to Poland

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), along with 15 other Senators, today sent a letter to President Obama asking him to announce a strengthened U.S. commitment to Poland and the Polish people during his upcoming visit to this important U.S. ally. The Senators asked the President to announce a set of strong pro-Poland measures, including increased U.S. and NATO support for Poland’s armed forces, enhanced missile defense efforts, and a strong U.S. commitment to support all efforts to help Europe diversify its energy supplies away from Russia.

    The cosponsors are Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

    President Obama’s visit is timed for the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first partially free elections, which marked the beginning of the country’s liberation from communism.

    “We know from history what happens when Western leaders abandon Poland,” said Senator Kirk. “This bipartisan effort is a call to action for the President to show Poland and her people that the United States stands firmly with them against the threat of Russian aggression and for a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”
    “I applaud the President for his commitment to strengthening ties with Poland and focusing on security in the region,” said Senator Mikulski. “Poland is a steadfast and true ally and we must take this opportunity to reaffirm the strong alliance between our two countries.”

     

    A copy of the letter is below:

    May 23, 2014

    Dear Mr. President:

    As champions of the U.S.-Poland partnership, we welcome your decision to visit Poland on June 4. This visit is vitally important, as it comes not only on the 25th anniversary of Poland regaining its liberty from communism, but also at the most challenging moment for the region since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

    We therefore urge you to announce during your visit a set of decisive measures to strengthen America’s commitment to Poland and the Polish people. These measures should encompass a renewed and long-term U.S. military commitment to NATO and Poland, as well as a U.S. government commitment to help Europe diversify its energy supplies away from Russia.

    First and foremost, we encourage you to publicly reaffirm to the Polish people America’s ironclad commitment to Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. As part of this commitment, we urge you to propose a plan to increase U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland.

    Second, we urge you to announce to continue to work with the Polish government to enhance U.S. missile defense efforts in Europe and in Poland. This plan should include a range of options, including a firm commitment to place a land-based interceptor site in Poland as well as full U.S. technical cooperation with Polish efforts to acquire their own missile defense.

    Third, we urge you to announce that the U.S. government is fully committed to helping Europe diversify its energy supplies. Poland, along with our allies in the region, is heavily reliant on Russian energy that also makes it vulnerable to Russia’s political pressure, as amply demonstrated when Gazprom cut supplies to Europe in 2008-2009 in its dispute with Ukraine. To help Europe lessen this dangerous dependence, U.S. must support all efforts to bring additional supplies to the market.

    Mr. President, Russian aggression against a sovereign Ukraine represents a grave threat to the region and a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Polish allies to confront this challenge.

    We look forward to your immediate response.

    Sincerely,

    ###

  • IL Governor Pat Quinn Slights Poles During Event Honoring Jan Karski

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    (PAL-PAC) Chicago, IL. – More than 200 people , including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, special guests, and representatives of various Polish and Jewish organizations, met on April 24, 2014 at the Polish Consulate in Chicago to honor the late Jan Karski, World War II hero and Georgetown professor, on the anniversary of his 100th birthday.

    Many of the invited guests, including historians and sociologists, participated in a panel discussion relating the remarkable accomplishments of Jan Karski.

    In his speech , Governor Pat Quinn, Jan Karski’s student at Georgetown, thanked Jewish organizations for participating in the ceremony. It did not go unnoticed, however, to many people including, Mr. Arie Zweig, a supporter of the Jewish and Polish communities, and Chairman of the Polish-American Leadership Political Action Committee (PAL-PAC), that Governor Quinn failed to thank the the Polish Consulate, Deputy Consul Robert Rusiecki, and numerous representatives of Polish organizations who took part in the commemoration.

    “It was disappointing that Governor Quinn did not acknowledge or thank the Polish organizers and supporters of the event. As Chairman of PAL-PAC, I feel that it is very important that the Polish community receive recognition when it is deserved, and our politicians, regardless who they are, need to be aware of our accomplishments and our ability to make an impact on the community and the political process”, Mr. Zweig stated.

    Polish Translation

    Ponad 200 osób , na czele z Gubernatorem Stanu Illinois – Pat Quinn, gośćmi  specjalnymi oraz przedstawicielami Organizacji Polonijnych i Żydowskich, spotkało sie 24 kwietnia , 2014 roku w siedzibie Polskiego Konsulatu w Chicago,  aby uhonorować wybitną postać Jana Karskiego w rocznicę Jego setnych urodzin.

    Do Konsulatu przybyli  nie tylko  przedstawiciele społeczności Żydowskich, a także Ci, ktorzy osobiscie przeżyli Holokaust.

    Wielu zaproszonych gości,  w tym historyków i socjologów, zabrało głos w panelu dyskusyjnym, którego głównym tematem była wybitna osoba Jana Karskiego.

    W swoim przemówieniu, Gubernator Pat Quinn, podziękował Żydowskim organizacjom za przybycie na ta uroczystość. W  tej wypowiedzi  zabrakło jednak bezpośredniego podziękowania dla Konsulatu, który zorganiowal spotkanie w swoich progach,  jak i dla samego   Konsula RP w Chicago- Roberta Rusieckiego. Ponadto nie wspomnial, ani nie podziekowal przybylej  licznie grupie liderow organizacji polonijnych, ani samej Polonii.

    Konkluzją,  jaka nasuwa się na myśl jest fakt, że obecny Gubernator nie liczy się z tak liczną etnicznie grupą w Illinois jaką  jest  Polonia. Obecny na spotkaniu w Konsulacie, jeden z czołowych liderow Polonijnych,  Pan Arie Zweig – Prezes organizacji  Polish –American Leadership Pal-Pac tak skomentował to wydarzenie:

    “Gubernator wykazal kompletny brak szacunku dla Polonii. Wierzy on, że Polonia  chicagowska stanie po jego stronie nawet gdy on sam nie docenia i nie szanuje jej wsparcia. My jako Polacy, powinniśmy  mieć świadomość tego faktu, decydując się na wybór naszego kandydata na Gubernatora w zbliżających się wyborach”

     

  • PAL-PAC Candidates Forum is tonight! Please join us!

    Candidates Forum will take place in Copernicus Center (5216 West Lawrence Ave., Chicago) from 6.00 to 9.00 pm. It is a special meeting of a large group of voters and candidates for major elective positions in the state of Illinois will include over a thousand people, who will be able to read the election program of 22 politicians seeking the nomination of the Democratic and Republican party in the election for the office of governor, his deputy and the state’s attorney. The evening will also accommodate candidates from the Illinois Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Please join us tonight! It is Polonia’s chance to speak up! Lets inform politicians that Polonia matters.

  • February PAL-PAC Polish American History Night

    Oscars
    Eventbrite - PAL-PAC Monthly Polish American History Night.
    Event Details
    SAVE THE DATE!

    Polish – American History Night- a monthly symposium series to educate Polish – Americans on historical events in Poland.

    WHEN: Thursday, February 27, 2014
    6:00pm – 8:00pm

    WHERE: Loyola University, 6364 N. Sheridan Road
    MPR 1100 in BVM Hall

    WHAT: Featured Lecture Topic:
    “Polish cinematography in the 60- year history of Oscars”

    WHO: Symposium led by:
    Zbigniew Banas, film critic

    Free to attend! Spaces are limited, please RSVP.
    Traditional Polish sweets will be served.

    AGENDA:

    6:00pm – 6:20pm
    Arrival and welcome speech

    6:20pm – 6:35pm
    Film screening- Tango (Best Animated Short Film, 1982) filmmaker Zbigniew Rybczynski

    6:35pm – 7:15pm
    Symposium
    Zbigniew Banas
    Film critic and Loyola University instructor
    (research interests: Polish and European Cinema)

    7:15 – 8:00 pm
    Open Discussion

  • PRACA W KOMISJACH WYBORCZYCH!

    Uwaga! Rada Wyborcza miasta Chicago (Chicago Board of Election), do Prawyborow 18 marca br. poszukuje dwujezycznych osob do pracy w Komisjach Wyborczych, w charakterze sedziego elekcyjnego.

    Sędzią elekcyjnym może zostać osoba, która:

    – jest obywatelem Stanów Zjednoczonych,

    – jest zarejestrowana do głosowania w powiecie Cook,

    – potrafi czytać i pisać w języku angielskim

    – posiada podstawowe umiejętności matematyczne

    – nie jest spokrewniona z żadnym z kandydatów.

    Zainteresowanych praca prosimy o zgloszenie sie po aplikacje do
    Moniki Galuszki (Mysliwiec)

    Chicago Board of Election Commissioners
    69 W. Washington St Ste 600
    Chicago IL 60602
    Phone: 312-269-5702
    Fax: 312-269-0664
    Email: polishvote@chicagoelections.net
    Web: www.chicagoelections.com