Tag: Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

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Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska Covers Polish Immigrant Community’s Reaction to Tragic Plane Crash

In a television interview Kern-Jedrychowska talks about covering events following the death of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and many top officials in the April 10th plane crash.

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Liu Becomes First Asian Elected to Citywide Office in New York

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
Liu and his son Joey during Tuesday's victory party - Photo: Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska.

Liu and his son Joey during Tuesday’s victory party. (Photo: Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska)

[* Editor’s note: This article was amended to correct election results in the last paragraph.]

John C. Liu’s victory in the race for New York City comptroller on Tuesday marks the first time an Asian American has been elected to citywide office.

Ever since Liu won the Democratic nomination in a primary runoff on Sept. 29, excitement had been building in Asian neighborhoods — in Chinatown and Sunset Park, but especially in Flushing, Queens, the neighborhood where Liu lives and which he has represented for the last eight years in the city council. People constantly kept stopping him on the street to congratulate him.

“It takes a long time to walk now,” Liu said with a laugh recently.

Liu’s believes that his victory in the general election over Republican rival Joseph A. Mendola, and over three other Democratic candidates in the primary, was no accident. “We won this election in the streets,” he said, referring to his busy campaign schedule, which often included meeting average New Yorkers. Liu, 42, is also extremely meticulous and proper in his relations with people. He pays attention to the details and always returns phone calls from reporters.

(more…)

Immigration News

Looking for Reelection, Mayor Bloomberg Courts Ethnic Press and Immigrant Voters

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
Bloomberg promised to talk more to the citys ethnic media if hes reelected. (Photo: Aleksandra Slabisz)
Bloomberg promised to talk more to the city’s ethnic media if he’s reelected. (Photos: Aleksandra Slabisz)

With less than a month to go before the election that will decide whether he remains in office for a third term, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to support New York’s immigrants, to be implemented if he is reelected.

Standing at the podium with a sign that read “City of Immigrants, Mike Bloomberg NYC” at the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan, the mayor reminded a crowd consisting mostly of ethnic media reporters of his previous initiatives for the city’s immigrants and went on to praise their role in the city.

“Immigrants are why New York City became America’s economic engine,” Bloomberg stated. “In these tough times our city needs more immigrants, not fewer.”

(more…)

BrooklynImmigration NewsPolish

Feeling Disrespected: Poles React to Obama’s Shift on Missile Defense

When the Obama administration recently announced its decision to scrap the Bush-era plan for an anti-missile shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic many Poles were not surprised. It simply confirmed what they had been expecting.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski meets with reporters in New York. Photo Karolina Szczepanska

Polish President Lech Kaczynski meets with reporters in New York. Photo Karolina Szczepanska

Last fall then-President-elect Obama expressed doubts about the system, and members of the Polish community in the U.S. anticipated that he wouldn’t feel obligated to respect agreements signed in 2008 by the previous administration.

“The US has its own problems now and they do whatever is best for them,” said Grazyna Bulka, east coast director of a Chicago-based shipping company, Polamer Inc. Bulka feared the system would have infuriated Russia, and was relieved to

learn that it had been abandoned.

“Poles love America so much and the U.S. really doesn’t care about us much,” lamented Emilia Sroczynska, a small business owner from Brooklyn, who favors the anti-missile system. “They remember us only when they need us, but they abandon us as soon as they don’t. To me it’s just another disappointment.”

Whether they supported or opposed the Bush plan to place ten ground-based interceptors on Polish soil, many agreed that Obama’s decision to scrap the deal proved that the U.S. considers Poland a second-class ally.

But what truly embittered Poles was the timing of the announcement, widely interpreted either as ignorance or insensitivity to Poland’s history by the Obama administration. (more…)

Immigration NewsNewsPolishRadio

New Museum Aims at Reconciliation Between Poles and Jews: FI2W’s Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on PRI’s The World

“While there are anti-Semites in this country, there is even a larger number –and that group is growing faster– of people opposing anti-Semites, the anti-anti-Semites.”

[ Rabbi Michael Schudrich ]

Zygmunt Rolat at the ceremony to launch construction of the museum. Rabbi Schudrich is on the right. (Photo: Krzysztof Slomka)

Zygmunt Rolat at the ceremony to launch construction of the museum. Rabbi Schudrich is on the right. (Photo: Krzysztof Slomka)

The history of Jews in Poland is long and not without controversy, especially due to their persecution during World War II. The fact is, until that war started Warsaw was a center of Europe’s Jewish community.

Now, construction has started there on the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

An artists rendering of the museum. (Image: Museum of the History of Polish Jews)

An artist's rendering of the museum. (Image: Museum of the History of Polish Jews)

It will not simply be a museum about the Holocaust. The museum team wants to focus more broadly on centuries of Jewish life and achievements in Poland.

Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska produced a radio piece about the museum from Warsaw that aired Tuesday on PRI’s The World.

You can listen to the story here or you can visit The World‘s page.

[audio:http://64.71.145.108/audio/0825095.mp3]

A cantor at the ceremony. (Photo: Krzysztof Slomka)

A cantor at the ceremony. (Photo: Krzysztof Slomka)

You can see more pictures at the Feet in 2 Worlds Flickr page.

Immigration NewsPolish

Not A Total Loss: Polish Voters in Chicago Energized Despite Unsuccessful Bid by Polish Candidate

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

He didn’t win. But Dr. Victor Forys considers his bid to replace Rahm Emanuel in Illinois’ 5th Congressional District a huge success. Fory’s, a Polish immigrant, finished fourth out of a field of 12 candidates in the special March 3rd Democratic primary with approximately 12% of the vote. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, who claimed the Democratic nomination, got 22% of the vote and is poised to win the congressional seat in a special election on April 7th

Dr. Forys

(Photo PolishNews.com)

Forys says his campaign mobilized Polish voters who in recent years have not been very active in politics, both in terms of voting or offering financial support to candidates. “We got them to like American politics, we got them excited about it, so this is not the end, this is just the beginning,” he said in a phone interview the day after the primary. Out of approximately 650,000 residents in the district, more than 17% claim Polish origins.

Forys, a well-known medical doctor, had hoped that low turnout among non-Polish voters combined with the support of his community would be enough for him to win. To a certain degree his plan worked. “I have never seen so many Polish people casting votes,” said Monika Mysliwiec who has worked as a Polish coordinator at the Chicago Board of Elections for the last 9 years. Approximately 300 Polish-speaking callers contacted the Board of Election’s hotline on primary day, mostly looking for their polling site. By comparison, on the day of the presidential election last November, about 100 Poles called. “Some people even called from other districts asking how they can vote for Forys,” said Mysliwiec.

Forys actually won in suburban Cook County where many Polish neighborhoods are located. He got approximately 22.5% of the Democratic votes in that part of the district.

In other areas his task was more difficult. Forys discovered that a tight network of connections and loyalties in Chicago’s political world does not favor outsiders.“Some older Polish Americans living in the city of Chicago have a strong personal relationship with the ward organizations. Moreover, it was an electorate that we couldn’t reach with the Polish media because they watch broadcast TV. We didn’t have enough money,” Forys said.

It also turned out that many Polish immigrants, not having participated in the political process before, didn’t realize they had to register to vote ahead of time. “We received many phone calls from people who thought that they could just go to a polling site with their ID and vote, just like it is in Poland,” said Mysliwiec.

Despite his loss, Poles residing in Chicago are proud of Forys’ attempt. “He changed the dynamics of this race taking away votes from long-time Chicago politicians and beating people like Patrick O’Connor, a Chicago alderman closely affiliated with Mayor Daley,” noted Malgorzata Ptaszynska of 1030 AM, WNVR, a local Polish radio station. “To other Democratic candidates who scored higher than him, like State Representatives Sara Feigenholtz and John Fritchey, politics is daily work, while Forys just walked out of his medical clinic.”

Ptaszynska is also convinced that Forys “gave Poles hope and made them involved. Polonia was noticed and showed itself as a group that does vote after all.” For her it’s a clear signal that Polish immigrants are willing to participate in American politics if they are educated about the American system and believe that their votes matter.

That theory may be tested in the April 7the special election to replace Emanuel who is now White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama. “I really hope that Poles will go out and vote even though the Polish candidate didn’t make it,” noted Monika Mysliwiec.

As for Forys, he does not rule out running for another office in the future. “I’m a physician and I’m happy with my work. But never say never. And if I run again, I want to run for another significant office.”

He even joked that he would like to try his chances in a presidential bid.

Immigration NewsPolish

Polish Community Shocked by Treatment of Polish Citizens at U.S. Border

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

This year ends with an unpleasant intervention by Poland’s diplomatic staff at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. At issue are recent cases of Poles who were denied entry to the U.S. at the New York area airports.

While no one questions the right of the U.S to bar certain individuals from entering the country, the treatment of Polish citizens was shocking to many, especially since most of those stopped at the border were older women in their 60s and 70s. Many of them were coming to visit their families and friends for Christmas, but instead ended up being interrogated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and transported in handcuffs to a detention center.

“In my case, they told me I overstayed my visa (when I) worked here between 1989 and 1991,” said Mrs. Janina, 64, who asked not to reveal her last name. “I admitted it was true. But since then I was here again in 2004 after I obtained my new visa, and everything was fine. Why they are giving me troubles now because of something I did almost 20 years ago, I really don’t know?” Mrs Janina was one of 13 Poles, including 11 women, who were not admitted to the U.S. in the month of November at the Newark Liberty International Airport. Some Polish citizens were also stopped at JFK airport. Similar cases occurred in December.

While most of the time the reason for inadmissibility was an old immigration violation, there was also a 60-years old woman, Mrs. Anna, who said she had never overstayed her visa, but still was not admitted. Allegedly, she was told that her visits to the U.S. were too frequent. Her explanation that her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are U.S. citizens did not help.

CBP spokespeople are prohibited from discussing specific cases. They list, however, more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility divided into several major categories, including security reasons, illegal entrants and immigration violations, as well as documentation requirements.
Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw stress that visas obtained in Poland do not guarantee that the visa-holder will be admitted to the U.S. The decision is up to CBP officers upon arrival to America.

After the interrogation Poles were ordered to return to their home country on the next available departure flight. (more…)

Immigration NewsPolishRadio

Deepening Economic Crisis Could Be Sending Polish Immigrants Back To Poland

Poles going back to Poland, a trend that was first noticed two years ago, may be getting a boost from the economic crisis in the U.S. Speaking recently on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, FI2W journalist Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska talked about the growing number of Poles who are returning to their home country for economic reasons.

A variety of factors have encouraged reverse migration, chief among them is Poland’s admission into the European Union four years ago. EU membership has opened up work opportunities for Polish citizens in a number of European countries. Ewa, who reports for Nowy Dziennik/The Polish Daily News, also noted that some younger Poles have moved to Poland in the belief that their American education gives them a competitive advantage in Poland’s economy. But she also said that like the U.S., Poland is experiencing an economic slowdown, so the benefits of moving to the Eastern European country may not be as great today as they have been in recent years.

Press play below to listen to Ewa on WNYC or click here to visit the show’s page.

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl112608epod.mp3]

Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

Ewa was recently honored by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. at a Polish-American Heritage Celebration. Thompson hailed Ewa’s “truly impressive record of achievement that augurs a great body of work still to come.”

Immigration NewsPolish

Future of the Missile Defense Project in Poland Uncertain Under an Obama Administration

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

Polish President Lech Kaczynski speaks to Barack Obama.

Polish President Kaczynski - Photo: Polish Presidency.

The first phone conversation between Polish president Lech Kaczynski and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, which took place the Friday after the election, has already caused diplomatic confusion, as apparently they had different understandings of what was said.

The next day, President Kaczynski issued a statement on his Polish-language website saying that Obama “emphasized the importance of the strategic partnership of Poland and the United States and expressed hope in the continuation of political and military cooperation between our countries. He also said that the missile-defense project would continue.”

The last sentence, however, was removed the next day after a quick reaction from Obama’s staff.

“President Kaczynski raised missile defense, but President-elect Obama made no commitment on it,” said Obama’s senior foreign policy advisor Denis McDonough. “His position is, as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile-defense system when the technology is proved to be workable.”

The misunderstanding quickly became fuel for comments in the Polish media.

The second-largest Polish newspaper, left-leaning Gazeta Wyborcza, which is often critical of the conservative Kaczynski, interpreted a memo by Obama’s top foreign policy advisers Tony Lake and Susan Rice as a reaction to that conversation.

As reported by Politico, in the memo sent out to all of Obama’s foreign policy advisers, Lake and Rice wrote: “We ask each of you please do not under any circumstances speak to the press, any foreign officials, or embassies on behalf of the transition or President-elect Obama. (…) It would be highly damaging for foreign government or media to receive information that they believe falsely to represent the views of the President-elect.”

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