Rep. Andre Jacque pushing to get English as official language of WI

DE PERE (WITI) -- A renewed push to make English the official language in Wisconsin is getting mixed reviews.  State Representative Andre Jacque of De Pere is again behind the proposal.  A similar push fizzed out in the legislature back in 2009.  While Jacque stands behind his plan, some groups are calling it an embarrassment.

Documents from election ballots to paperwork at the DMV may soon only be printed in one language...English.

"It's something that really promotes English as a vehicle for advancement, climbing the societal ladder in pursing the American Dream," Jacque said.

Rep. Jacque of De Pere says his plan would make state and local governments stick to English when it comes to official documents -- with exceptions to individual cases.

"There are certain exceptions that are written in for public safety and public health, the court system as far as victims rights and defendants," Jacque said.

The proposal would also prohibit the government from blocking anyone's efforts to learn a foreign language.

Those with the Hispanic Community Council of Northeast Wisconsin feel it's unnecessary.

"It's part of your freedom not to stereotype something, not to say this is what we are now? I do care about this country, that's why I'm here. I do care about people, I do care about everything, it's me who chooses to learn," Hispanic Common Council President Gabriela Gamboa said.

Immigrant advocacy groups like Voces de la Frontera call Jacque's an embarrassment.

In a statement, the group wrote: "English-only legislation only serves to disenfranchise New Americans, and promote artificial divisions in communities across Wisconsin."

But Jacque stands behind the proposal, saying it would encourage individuals to learn the language and improve their prospects.

"This isn't saying that English is the only language. It's saying that English is the official language," Jacque said.

According to U.S. English, Inc., a citizens group that works to preserve the language in the U.S. says 31 states have made English their official language.

As far as legislative support, Jacque says he has received interest from fellow GOP lawmakers.  Both the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker supported a similar bill in 2009.  However, its unclear whether they'll support this one.