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Chicago Area Pols Pushing For Visa Waiver For Poland

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Several Chicago aldermen and other local politicians with Polish roots -- or Polish American constituents -- are pushing a resolution in the City Council to ask the federal government to do away with the visa requirement for Polish citizens.

Poland is alone in central Europe; the only country whose residents still need a visa to travel to America.

A group of Chicago aldermen is introducing a City Council resolution to push Congress to act on the visa waiver for Poland, which would allow Polish citizens to travel to the U.S. with only a passport. Chicago is home to the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Steve Miller reports


Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said there's little reason why Polish citizens should be denied the visa waiver that many other European citizens get.

"It is clear that Poland is not a terrorist state," Moore said, so there is no rational basis to force Polish citizens to get a visa to travel to the U.S.

As for the question of Polish citizens overstaying their visas when they travel to the U.S., Moore said that argument to keep the visa requirement in place doesn't hold up because Poland's economy is doing well.

"If anything, maybe there's gonna be a problem with Americans going over there and overstaying their visa … at the rate things are going.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said doing away with the visa requirement for Polish citizens would increase tourism for the U.S.

Harwood Heights Village Trustee Mark Dobrzycki, who says more than half the population of Harwood Heights is of Polish descent, is also pushing to do away with the visa requirement for Polish citizens.

"I think Poland has been overlooked because Poland has always been a good neighbor, a good ally of America. And it just comes down to the squeaky wheel theory," Dobrzycki said.

Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and U.S. Sen Mark Kirk have been pushing to add Poland to the list of 36 nations on the visa waiver list.

A visa waiver allows eligible citizens or nationals of designated countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business trips of 90 days or less, without first obtaining a visa.

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