MADISON – John Gard supported legislation to fund benefits for children of non-resident immigrants in 2003, despite the fact that he claims in a recent campaign ad that he is absolutely opposed to taxpayer funded benefits for illegal immigrants.

As Assembly Speaker, Gard supported the legislation, Assembly Bill 95, and helped get it in the 2003 budget adjustment bill. In the end, the provision was vetoed by then Governor Scott McCallum. 

“Where does John Gard stand? What is his position? The voters in the 8th Congressional District got to wonder,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “He swears he will vote against taxpayer funded benefits for illegal immigrants if elected to Congress. Yet he supported them before he opposed them. Can the people in the 8th Congressional District believe what he is saying now?”

In the campaign ad, Gard flatly states: “I’m against giving taxpayer funded benefits to illegals,” and, “You can be sure that’s the way I’ll vote in Congress.” Gard specifically says no to health care and housing benefits for illegal immigrants. However, Wineke cited Gard’s comments in support of a proposal before the state Legislature that would provide benefits to children of illegal residents.

Gard was Assembly Speaker in 2003 when Rep. Pedro Colon, a Milwaukee Democrat, introduced the legislation, Assembly Bill 95. The measure would have let children, whose parents are not legal residents, attend state colleges and pay resident tuition. Gard was quoted in a newspaper article as saying he supported that and more for illegal immigrants.

Despite the offensive message in his campaign ad, Gard praised Latinos in a Fond du Lac Reporter article from 2003, saying “they are some of the hardest-working people in the state of Wisconsin.” He told the reporter he wanted them to feel welcome and that Wisconsin is a great state where they can raise a family.

In the article, Gard is quoted as saying the following: “We want to make sure that our policies are open-minded whether it is public schools, health care, or economic opportunity. We want to be helpful to all folks of different types of backgrounds.”

Gard also is quoted as saying, “When I look at the policies adopted, from welfare to schools to universities and I see the tremendous opportunities to grow and raise families, whether you are from the Hispanic community, African American community or other minority community, people should look at the services we offer and say this is one the best places in America, where the taxpayers reach out to the people and try to help when they need it.”