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White House Polish American
Leadership Briefing

By Richard Poremski

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One hundred invited leaders and members of America’s Polish diaspora, and its various organizations, took part here in a presentation sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement on May 13, 2016. The 3-5 PM afternoon briefing was mainly a projection and promotion of present White House policies and agendas. Direct relevance to Polonia and Poland was somewhat limited, mostly becoming spotlighted subject matter due to probing questions, comments and redirection from the floor to the podium.

In photo: White House/Eisenhower Executive Office Building

There were four topics listed on the Polish American Leadership Briefing program handout which were presented by various staffers/directors/assistants/advisors, as briefly encapsulated below:

Supreme Court
A video was presented by the Office of Public Engagement promoting the currently stalled President Obama appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. The moderator conducted and abetted follow-up dialog encouraging support for the Senate’s conformation of Judge Garland.

The presentation by the Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy, Domestic Policy Council, focused at length on various supportive laws and other legal relief for the millions of undocumented adults and children now living in the U.S. Answering a question, the staffer reiterated that President Obama is committed to the waiver of visa requirements for Polish citizens. The presenter congratulated the ethnic audience for its efforts since the necessary and still-pending visa waiver legislation is one of the few on Capitol Hill that has bi-partisan support.   (Photo: Briefings in Conference Room 430A)

Citizenship and Civic Engagement
This was a general call for bipartisan promotion and engagement for voter registration and getting out the vote on election days. Detailed discussion and suggested planning followed. The critical importance of electing Polish Americans to all levels of political office was broached. The Polish American community was encouraged to mobilize its eligible U.S. permanent residents to apply for U.S. citizenship to become voters. Presentation was by Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Public Engagement and Domestic Policy Control

Foreign Policy
Speaking briefly, the Special Advisor for Europe and Eurasia in the Office of V.P. Joe Biden said she works closely with the government of Poland and encourages cooperation with Ukraine. She said that Poland’s contributions in Afghanistan has earned the gratitude of the American administration. To a posed Poland security question, the advisor answered that the present heightened tension with Russia requires the reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank.

DSC05186forwebEarlier in the day, the same participants attended a critical briefing on the National Security of Poland at the Embassy of the Republic Poland. Immediately afterwards, two different groups of the participants attended Polish American strategy meetings with the Democratic National Committee and with the Republican National Committee in their respective office buildings on Capitol Hill. (In photo on right: Leadership/PAJ attendee Richard Poremski)

The “Polonian 100” had a very busy and tiring day … but they undoubtedly   did themselves proud with their multi-faceted political engagement and worthy contributions on behalf of Polish America and Poland.

Text and Photos:
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
August 11, 2016