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…)