Illinois Town Where 40 Percent of Residents are Hispanic Votes to Make English Official Language

Residents of Carpentersville, Ill., woke up Wednesday with message from the town's Board of Trustees:

Speak English.

Amid cheers, boos and hisses from the more than 100 people who packed the board room, trustees approved a resolution, 5-2, to make English the official town language.

And, since the measure is non-binding, the village will continue to provide a number of documents and conduct village business in languages other than English, village leaders said.

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Trustee Judy Sigwalt told the Daily Herald newspaper that she thinks the measure's adoption equals success.

"Even though a resolution is just fluff, we are still making a statement," Sigwalt said before the meeting.

But Trustee Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski said declaring English the official language is a slap in the face to the village's Hispanic population.

"I agree we pass resolutions ... that are good for the whole community," Ramirez-Sliwinski said. "But when the resolution singles out 40 percent of the community, this is not good for the whole community."

Other trustees who supported the resolution said it would benefit the community.

"We pass resolutions all of the time that we feel will better the village of Carpentersville," Trustee Ed Ritter said. "In my opinion, this would send the message that Carpentersville believes people should learn English as part of becoming a citizen."

Many in the audience said the English measure, as well as the Illegal Alien Immigration Relief Act, which would crackdown on landlords and employers who rent to or hire illegal immigrants, are racist and divide a community.

Nearby Hampshire, Ill., passed a similar resolution in April. Village officials there said they believed Hampshire was the first municipality in Illinois to pass such a measure.

Illinois is one of 30 states to declare English as the official state language.