WASHINGTON, June 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An amendment to the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would add Poland to the list of countries currently covered by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) would result in significant increases in immigration, legal and illegal, and heighten national security risks, warned the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The VWP currently allows citizens of 38 countries to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa or be interviewed, face-to-face, by a U.S. consular officer. To participate in the VWP, federal law requires that the sending country demonstrate that their visa refusal rate is 3 percent or less.
Poland, however, represents a high risk for illegal immigration. In 2014, 6.4 percent of visa applications from Polish nationals were rejected. Poles are among the top 20 nationalities of illegal aliens in the U.S. Moreover, since joining the European Union in 2004, some 2 million Polish citizens have settled outside that country, mostly in other EU countries.
Compounding the risk of increased illegal immigration from Poland is a 2013 Obama administration policy memo allowing VWP overstays to apply for green cards if they are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Given the large number of Polish immigrants in the U.S., adding Poland to the VWP program practically invites people to enter under fraudulent pretenses.
"The decision to include Poland under the VWP is purely a political one that will further exacerbate the nation's illegal immigration crisis," charged Dan Stein. "The charge to grant VWP status to Poles is led by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who is facing a tough reelection campaign in a state with a sizeable Polish-American population, and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), another state with a substantial Polish community. Regardless of what ethnic group is pressing for special immigration benefits, American jobs and American security should not be put at risk based on narrow political interests."
FAIR supports repeal of the VWP because the program poses an ongoing threat to homeland security. International terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, ISIS and others openly recruit citizens of VWP countries because these passports make it easy for them to gain access to the U.S. and other western nations.
"In an age of massive global migration and global terrorist networks, VWP is a post 9/11 luxury we can no longer afford," declared Stein. "Adding a country, known to be a source of significant illegal immigration to the United States and other countries, would only compound the problem.
"The United States should continue to welcome people from around the world who wish to visit our country for legitimate purposes, but only after we establish with reasonable confidence that they do not pose a danger and that they intend to return home before their visas expire. Given Poland's exceptionally high visa refusal rate and the large number of Polish illegal aliens in the U.S., we must continue to require that Polish citizens obtain a visa before entering our country," Stein concluded.
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group. With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.