Many of Hernandez's critics are claiming that he is an opponent of the assimilation of Mexican immigrants and has made remarks that may cast doubt the persistence of a sovereign, independent US identity. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) narrated one conversation with Hernandez thus (e.a.):
TANCREDO: I had a great argument one time with a gentleman by the name of Juan Hernandez who was at that time the minister of that ministry that I just mentioned, the Ministry for Mexicans Living in the United States.Though we only seem to have Tancredo's word on this conversation, a number of Hernandez's public statements might not allay the fear of some. He has said that he believes and hopes that the "Mexican-American" population (from the third-generation to the seventh) will think "Mexico first." He has also said, according to various reports, that his old boss Vicente Fox believes that there are at least 123 million Mexicans: "100 million within the borders [of Mexico] and 23 million who live in the United States." This 23 million would seem to include US citizens (Hernandez is himself a dual US-Mexican citizen).
And I asked him that very question. What he told me the purpose of his ministry was to push people into the United States, it was to—by the way, it was also AFC work with them so that they did—he was with the community, he said. He was three days a week in the United States, four in Mexico.
By the way, he himself is a dual citizen born in Texas, university—teaching at the University of Texas and on the Vicente Fox cabinet. And he said, “I work with the community in the United States, the Mexican community because I don‘t want them essentially going native on us. We want them continually tied emotionally, linguistically, politically to Mexico, because then they‘ll continue to send money home.”
And I said to him, that does not sound like—you know, you‘re doing something that‘s actually the act of an unfriendly government.
CARLSON: Well, of course, it doesn‘t in any way serve American interests. It undermines our country in a pretty direct and direct and obvious way.
TANCREDO: Tucker, his response. Let me tell you his response.
TANCREDO: At the end he goes, “Congressman,” in an incredibly condescending way. He goes, “Congressman, it‘s not two countries; it‘s just a region.”
In a 2001 interview with the Devner Post (mentioned here), Hernandez elaborates on immigration policy and the need to maintain a separate Mexican identity for Mexican immigrants (blocked by archive wall, emphasis added):
In an interview Tuesday, Fox adviser Juan Hernandez, director of the new Presidential Office for Mexicans Abroad, said he'll approach Owens in Denver on Thursday with the following requests:
Let undocumented migrants apply for driver's licenses. Colorado law currently bars licenses for undocumented workers. Other states such as Utah allow them. 'We're talking about safety on the roads, that's all,' Hernandez said, adding that with driver's licenses, migrants could buy insurance. 'Mexican workers want to be good citizens,' he said.
Give migrant children who graduate from high school the same access as legal residents to higher education. Texas recently passed legislation letting undocumented Mexicans attend state colleges and junior colleges.
'It's possible' that Colorado could enter into an agreement on this with Mexico, said Jeanne Adkins, policy and planning director for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Research on costs is in progress, Adkins said. Legislators 'probably have to enter the picture at some point.' Owens 'wants a lot of the background information before making a decision.'
That's because Mexicans working in the United States 'are going to keep one foot in Mexico,' Hernandez said. Four leading mayors in the central state of Guanjuato once worked as undocumented migrants in the United States, he noted.
Hernandez presented a document defending "multiple belongings":
Sending countries should not see the process of migrants’ incorporation into receiving societies as an identity threat and should allow for dual or multiple belongings, nationalities or citizenships, and the ability to exercise their political rights, wherever they may reside.Along with Tancredo's claim that Hernandez said that the US and Mexico are not two countries but one "region," this YouTube clip (go to around 0:20 or so) shows Hernandez saying that the US, Mexico, and Canada should become a single "bloc"--though he does distinguish this bloc from being one nation.
Receiving countries should not consider these continued residual attachments as threats to the full incorporation of new immigrants into the host society, but rather, should acknowledge that by permitting these multiple attachments, they not only facilitate social incorporation, but also enrich their societies.
So some questions: Does Hernandez deny what Tancredo said he said? Has he changed his mind about assimilation? Does John McCain support Hernandez's principles about assimilation? Does McCain also want a Canada-US-Mexico bloc? This controversy, along with "grand bargain" partisan Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)'s recent endorsement of McCain, seems likely to reignite the concerns and opposition of those who were already skeptical about McCain's stance on immigration.
UPDATE: Malkin investigates the ties between the "Reform Institute," George Soros, Hernandez, McCain, and McCain's campaign manager.