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NY Congressman Crowley Backs Two Visa Waiver Bills for Poland

May 05, 2014

Queens NY - A proposed House of Representatives bill making Poland eligible for America’s Visa Waiver program has now acquired an additional co-sponsor in the person of New York Congressman Joseph Crowley (center). Shown thanking him for his support of H.R.1354 are officials of the Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress Frank Milewski, president (left) and Chet Szarejko, chairman of that organization’s Political Activities Committee.

Congressman Crowley’s agreement to support H.R. 1354 helped push the count of Congressional co-sponsors to over 150. Polish Americans have already put in several years of dedicated effort to get Poland into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. They are now conducting an intensive nationwide drive to have this bill voted on and approved by the end of the present session of Congress.

Every member nation of the European Union is in the program with only the exception of Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.

A comprehensive immigration reform bill containing the Visa Waiver provision has already passed in the Democratic controlled Senate. The next action on immigration reform will be taking place in the House.

House Democrats had put together their own version of a Comprehensive Immigration Bill (H.R. 15) several months ago also containing Visa Waiver support. It is almost exclusively a Democratic bill which Crowley co-sponsored even before the Polish American Congress met with him to ask him to also co-sponsor H.R. 1354.

With the focus of H.R. 1354 concentrated on travel, tourism and Visa Waiver (The JOLT Act of 2013), it has thus far received bipartisan acceptance with almost even co-sponsorship from both Democrats and Republicans.

In case the House debate on comprehensive immigration reform reaches a stalemate, the Polish American Congress hopes the legislators could at least agree on the limited provisions of H.R.1354 and pass it, according to Political Activities Chairman, Chet Szarejko, a former Democratic District Leader.

During their visit to Crowley’s Congressional office in New York City’s Borough of Queens, the Polish Americans also thanked him for supporting Poland’s entry into NATO in 1999.

“With the current crisis Russia’s Putin created in neighboring Ukraine, everyone sees why being a member of NATO is now so important to Poland,” said Szarejko who considers Crowley a good friend of the Polish American Congress.

He also noted that Poland has lived up to all its NATO obligations in the years since joining the pact and has contributed militarily to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As NATO prepares to end its military involvement in Afghanistan, some 1,000 Polish troops still remain there.

Frank Milewski