Former DHS Secretaries Support Legislation
That Would Include Poland In Visa Waiver Program
Washington, DC (American Polish Advisory Council)—Former Secretaries of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff signed a joint letter supporting legislation that would include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program. The secretaries wrote that Poland’s exclusion from the program undermines US credibility with a strategic partner.
The letter is significant because past efforts to include Poland in the visa-free tourism program have stalled over questions about the Visa Waiver Program’s overall security.
The former Secretaries noted that DHS “has taken significant steps to make the VWP more secure, including [through] the implementation of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) that now screens 98% of VWP travelers prior to their arrival in the U.S.” The two also wrote that the Visa Waiver Enhanced Security and Reform Act would further “enhance the VWP by requiring VWP participants to maintain enhanced counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control and document security standards.
The letter was addressed to chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in support of the Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act of 2013 (S.223/H.R. 490). The legislation is currently before Congress in two forms: As part of the immigration reform bill and as part of the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act.
The bill was introduced by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in the Senate; Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) in the House of Representatives.
The American Polish Advisory Council (APAC) was responsible for circulating the letter in Congress. APAC is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to increase the voice and visibility of Polish Americans in public life.