A Senate panel’s approval of an amendment to add Poland to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is an invitation for illegal immigration, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
A new report from CIS Monday warns against adding Poland to the list of visa waiver countries — or countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the U.S. without visas when visiting for short periods of time — due to the risk of visa overstays.
According to the report, Poland has been excluded from VWP largely due to the high rate at which U.S. consular offices refuse Polish visa applications. Where VWP countries are expected to have a refusal rate under three percent, Poland’s refusal rate was more than twice that last year at 6.4 percent. In 2013 Poland’s refusal rate was 10.8 percent, in 2012 it was 9.3 percent, 10.2 percent in 2011 and 13.5 percent in 2009.
“The refusal rates in Poland are high for a good reason,” the CIS report, authored by the Center’s director of policy studies, Jessica Vaughan reads. “Poland is one of the top-20 countries of origin of illegal aliens in the United States and has more illegal aliens here than any other European country. Only one VWP country generates more illegal aliens than Poland — South Korea, which also was awarded VWP privileges for the wrong reasons (as part of trade agreement negotiations).”
Currently there are 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program.
The report notes that while visa overstays account for about 40 percent of the illegal immigration to the U.S. a 2013 GAO report revealed that less than 2 percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resources are targeted to enforcement of visa overstays.
More than 25 percent, according to the report, of the estimated 250,000 annual visa overstays contributing to the illegal immigrant population are from visa waiver countries.
The amendment was added to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill which advanced out of the Senate Appropriation’s Committee last week.
“The implementation of a functional entry-exit system, a robust enforcement program against overstays, and effective measures to prevent illegal employment, such as universal E-Verify, are the necessary prerequisites to offering more visa waivers,” Vaughan said in a statement.
“Visa waiver privileges should only be extended to another country when it is in our interest, and not in response to demands by a foreign country. If this provision remains in the final version of the DHS funding bill, it almost certainly will result in an increased number of illegal aliens settling in the United States,” she added.