On our Facebook page, immigration is one of the hottest topics.
Recently, we published a story on a local group that is helping immigrants who are in the country illegally to get driver's licenses, which Illinois now allows.
The piece drew 276 comments on our Facebook page.
One woman had nothing good to say about "illegals."
"They carry illegal drugs and drive while smoking pot. Don't tell me that having a driver's license is a good thing for an illegal," she said. "I say deport them until they speak English, our language. …"
Such comments are highly provocative.
This idea that immigrants aren't absorbing the English language is untrue. Studies, for instance, show that second-generation Mexican immigrants are learning English just as fast as previous waves of immigrants – if not faster.
Public schools have a lot to do with that. The goal of bilingual education – as controversial as it is – is to teach students English.
Immigration has long riled people – here and elsewhere.
In the 1800s, the railroad moguls brought over Chinese immigrants in droves to build the nation's rail network. But it turned out a lot of people didn't want them around – thus the Chinese Exclusion Act, signed in 1882, barring immigration of all Chinese laborers.
Before the Civil War, one of the biggest national movements was a third party known as the Know-Nothings. Their philosophy was essentially hatred of German and Irish Catholic immigrants.
In the 1920s, much of the Midwest – the Sauk Valley included – was in the grasp of the Ku Klux Klan. Their biggest target at the time: Catholics.
On our Facebook page, frequent commenter Jordan Bowman wrote, "I've said it before, in the Sauk Valley, nothing brings out the hatred quicker than the topic of immigration."
It's not new, and it's not limited to the Sauk Valley.
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.