- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

While Sen. John McCain is clearly more embittered than humbled by the crushing defeat that a furious American people dealt his mass amnesty plan last summer, the co-architect of the scheme to grant as many as 30 million illegal aliens instant legal status now swears he has found religion on immigration and is ready to secure the border.

Correctly assessing that his chances of winning the Republican nomination would be somewhere south of Rep. Ron Paul’s if he were to continue to promote his plan for comprehensive immigration reform, Mr. McCain now blurts out the sound bite “I’ll secure the border” anytime he is within five feet of a microphone.

While it has been met with skepticism among many Americans, Mr. McCain’s tough talk on border security must sound quite appealing en espanol, as it has attracted a very interesting supporter to his campaign.

But Juan Hernandez is one endorsement that Mr. McCain won’t be trumpeting in front of the cameras.

Mr. Hernandez, who now serves as one of Mr. McCain’s Hispanic Outreach Directors, is no amateur in the debate over illegal immigration into the United States. Though largely unknown to the public, he’s been at the center of the policy maelstrom for years, a critical frontline player for the proponents of open borders and an unflinching advocate for strident Mexican nationalism.

Though born in the United States to a father from Mexico and a mother from Texas, Mr. Hernandez has left no doubt as to where his loyalties lie. Serving as a cabinet member to Mexican President Vincente Fox — the first American in Mexico’s history to do so — Mr. Hernandez has tirelessly fought against assimilation in America.

In an interview with ABC’s Nightline, Mr. Hernandez said Mexican Americans must always think “Mexico first,” whether they are one generation in the United States or have been here for seven generations.

In public remarks both before and after the terror attacks of September 11, Mr. Hernandez declared that Mexicans in the United States must never surrender their loyalty to Mexico, but rather must always keep “one foot in Mexico.” Now that’s straight talk; just not the kind that Mr. McCain wants voters to hear between now and the convention, or November if he wins the nomination. So perhaps it’s not too surprising that Mr. McCain played dumb when a voter asked him about his association with Mr. Hernandez during a town hall meeting in Florida.

Questioned by a woman who recited Mr. Hernandez’s comments that illegal immigrants are forced to steal citizens’ Social Security numbers because they couldn’t find work without them — which shifts the guilt to Americans — Mr. McCain quickly went into his stock stump mantra promising border security.

“He’s on my staff because he supports my policies and my legislative proposal to secure the borders first,” Mr. McCain asserted. “I don’t know what his previous positions are or [his] other positions are, he supports mine.” Mr. Hernandez does indeed support Mr. McCain — and that speaks volumes.

The fundamental question that American voters must ask themselves is: Why would a zealous Mexican nationalist who has dedicated much of his life to eliminating the border between Mexico and the United States now suddenly support a candidate who claims to favor securing the border once and for all? Could it be that Mr. McCain’s assertions translate a little differently to Mr. Hernandez’s ear? Indeed, that wide grin Mr. Hernandez likes to flash suggests that what he’s hearing from Mr. McCain has a familiar ring to it, perhaps not unlike that of a Tijuana police chief vowing to crack down on corruption.

The bottom line is that Mr. Hernandez is a savvy man with enough sophistication to know that what Mr. McCain is not saying is equally important — if not more — than his pablum about “border security.” And Mr. McCain is not saying he will support vigorous enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws in the interior of the country, particularly at job sites; he’s not saying that he supports deporting any significant number of illegal aliens already in the country; and he is surely not saying that he will end the chain migration laws that strike to the core of encouraging illegal immigrants to get into the nation at all costs and then wait for an amnesty that will allow them to bring their extended families north.

No, Mr. McCain is saying none of these things.

Mr. Hernandez hears the senator’s “straight talk” loud and clear, and it seems to be music to his ears.

Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization.

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