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Juan Hernandez, center, with President Bush and former Mexican President Vicente Fox
The Hispanic outreach director for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign is a dual American-Mexican citizen known for his “Mexico first” declarations to immigrants in the U.S., WND has confirmed.
Word of the appointment, made in November, spread across the Internet last night, sparking reaction from secure-border activists who charge Juan Hernandez’s position in the campaign belies the Republican candidate’s attempt to position himself as an advocate of border security.
McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers emphasized to WND that Hernandez is “a non-paid volunteer to the campaign, and he does not play a policy role.”
“Juan works with us to reach out to the Hispanic community to meet with the folks in the various states,” Rogers said.
Asked if the McCain campaign has repudiated Hernandez’s “Mexico first” declarations, Rogers did not give a direct answer.
Twice he referred WND to McCain’s immigration position on the campaign presidential website arguing for border security.
In an appearance on ABC’s Nightline in 2001, Hernandez said, referring to Mexican immigrants in the U.S., “I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first.'”
Hernandez told the Associated Press the same year, “I never knew the border as a limitation. I’d be delighted if all of us could come and go between these two marvelous countries.”
Last August, Hernandez published a book entitled “The New American Pioneers: Why Are We Afraid of Mexican Immigrants?” in which he argued Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal, were at the forefront of establishing a new North American market combining the U.S. with Mexico.
Sen. John McCain
Mark Krikorian, director for the Center for Immigration Studies, asked last night on a National Review Online blog, “Has McCain offered Hernandez, a former high-level foreign government official who presumably swore an oath to uphold the Mexican constitution, a place on a future McCain Administration? That’s not a rhetorical question.”
Columnist Michelle Malkin posted equally critical comments this morning on her blog HotAir.com.
Noting that McCain has attempted to distance himself from the comprehensive immigration reform bill he co-sponsored with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, Malkin said the appointment of Hernandez “tells me that John McCain is as weak on border security now as he ever was.”
While McCain is now emphasizing border security, the policy posted on his website repeats many of the “flexible labor market” arguments advanced in the Kennedy-McCain comprehensive immigration reform bills, arguing for the necessity of a guest-worker program.
Hernandez has appeared on various cable news talk shows aggressively arguing against building any fence on the Mexican border, insisting the frontier need to remain wide open so illegal immigrants can easily cross into the U.S.
Hernandez was the first U.S.-born cabinet member to serve President Vicente Fox, operating from Los Pinos, the Mexican White House. Hernandez represented the 24 million Mexicans living abroad whom Fox then called “heroes” for representing Mexico in the foreign nations in which they lived.
In 1996, Hernandez was responsible for inviting Fox, then governor of the Mexican state of Guanajuanto, to speak at the University of Texas, Dallas, where he met George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, for the first time.