Question: How many Polish immigrants to the United States does it take until financial documents are translated into the polish language? Answer: Nobody knows, but it’s certainly more than we have currently, at least according to U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy.
Murphy has sent a polite letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg “strongly urging” the agency to translate some of its documents into the Polish language, particularly those documents relating to the FDIC’s Money Smart program, which is intended to educate middle- and low-income families.
“According to the U.S. English Foundation, Connecticut has 38,940 Polish speakers, making it one of largest Polish communities in the United States,” Murphy wrote, and when you look at the number of individuals identifying as Polish-American, the numbers get significantly larger.
According to the 2000 Census, there are 284,272 Polish-Americans living in Connecticut. Though about four-times that many live in neighboring News York (986,141, the largest Polish-American population in the United States) the density of Connecticut’s Polish population is one of the highest in the nation.
Polish-Americans make up 8.3 percent of Connecticut’s total population, with only Michigan and Wisconsin boasting larger percentages.
May 6 was Polish Day at Connecticut’s capitol and Murphy, who is of Polish derivation, said he is attempting to make Poland part of the visa waiver program, allowing visitors from Poland to tour through the United States without a visa.
A bill introduced by Rep. Joe Heck, R-N.V., and Mike Quigley, D-IL, in March, called the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel Act, H.R.1401, would add Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Israel, Panama, Poland, Romania, and Uruguay to the list of 38 countries from which travelers are not required to obtain a visa on their way into the U.S.
Before the largest influx of Polish immigration into the United States began after World War II, there were actually legislative efforts to restrict the number of immigrants from Poland.
The Immigration Act of 1924, or Johnson-Reed Act, restricted the amount of immigrants from any country to 2 percent of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890. At that time, the size of the Eastern European population in the United States was at its smallest
After the laws governing immigration quotas were reworked following WWII, Connecticut, a center of industry and farming, became a center of Polish life, as Murphy noted in a release issued in honor of Polish Day at the capitol.
According to a report issued by Trinity College, the 1970 Census lists about 104,000 Poles living in Connecticut with most, about 12,000, living in New Britain. There are currently a bit more than 14,000 Polish-Americans living in New Britain, making up about 20 percent of the population.
“I grew up listening to my mother tell stories of growing up in the tight knit Polish community of New Britain, and eating the wonderful Polish food my grandmother and aunts would prepare,” Murphy said.
Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.
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