Battle of Vienna, 1683
Click here to download the complete program from the 15th Annual Katyn Memorial Remembrance (PDF), which was held in Baltimore, Maryland on April 19, 2015.
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 by Senators 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.
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The Embassy of the Republic of Poland hosts a moving reunion between President Lech Wałęsa and former Senator Christopher Dodd. Read the letter below:
Dear PNAF Members,
We [The Embassy of the Republic of Poland] wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who joined us for what proved to be an unforgettable night on Capitol Hill. And for those of you who were not able to join us, we hope you enjoy our video from this momentous occasion. A moving reunion between President Lech Wałęsa and former Senator Christopher Dodd took place, while many other high-level dignitaries paid tribute. Most notably, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Congressmen John Dingell, and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who were among the nearly 500 special guests. So if you weren't with us, we hope this film makes you feel, as if you were. Wishing you and your families a very Happy Holiday Season and a Joyous and Peaceful New Year.
Or click here to visit the Embassy of the Republic of Poland website.
Embassy of the Republic of Poland
The dedication of the mosaic of the Blessed John Paul II was held inside the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2013. Cardinal Adam J. Maida, retired archbishop of Detroit, celebrated Mass in the chapel. Youth Music Group from Holy Rosary parish, and Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine signed during the mass.
Click here to view pictures from the event on Flickr.
Articles about the event (containing more details about the event):
Polish American Journal
Buffalo, NY – USA
Text & Photo by Richard Poremski
Washington, D.C. – Official Polish Affair Impacted. Lech Walesa, past-president of Poland and a Nobel Prize Laureate, became an innocent casualty of the partial, but massive, U.S. Government shutdown that effectively began here on Monday morning, September 30, 2013 - which also included an estimated 800,000 furloughed federal workers and contractors.
As arranged and promoted by Poland’s Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf, the biopic “Walesa. Man of Hope” was scheduled to be viewed here on October 8, 2013 at the impressive and massive subterranean U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Atrium & Auditorium. The event is directly related to the on-going “Celebrating Poland’s Path to Freedom and its Partnership with the United States” campaign. Lech Walesa himself was to attend the reception and the film’s pre-release debut here in America, along with many invited high ranking U.S. and Polish politicians and government officials.
But with governmental funding negotiations at an unblinking standoff in Congress - and with time quickly running out - the event had to be cancelled due to the anticipated absence of the necessary Capitol staff needed to operate the venue. It is planned to reschedule the event at a later date.
Be that as it may, “Walesa. Man of Hope,” is to be released in Poland on October 8, 2013. It was directed by Oscar-winning Andrzej Wajda, with story and screenplay by Janusz Glowacki. Robert Wieckiewicz will star as Lech Walesa. Glowacki was quoted as saying that he wanted to show Walesa “as a man of flesh and blood, a leader of great strength but also someone who had his weaknesses … It’s not just going to be romanticism. There will be irony, too. Don’t worry.”
Director Wajda, in April 2011, told The Guardian, that he intended to make a film just in order to “shine new light on Lech Walesa,” and blend in real contemporary news material. That is because the feature strives to “give testimony to the truth.” Ungrudgingly, the biographical project was condoned by Walesa. Wajda said that that he considered the making of this film to be his hardest professional challenge to date. He consequently quoted the famous slogan of his friend Walesa: “Nie chcem, ale muszem” (“I don’t want to, but I have to”).
To view a trailer of “Walesa. Man of Hope” log onto the web site www.youtube.com and enter the movie’s title.
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
October 11, 2013
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