George Washington was a Mexican migrant worker?

George_Washington(Wikipedia Commons)

This archival gem comes from my friend and fellow historian Lorrin Thomas.

In February 1974 US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and two other US officials met with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Emilio O. Rabasa and Mexican Ambassador to the US José Juan de Olloqui. When the conversation turned to migrant workers Rabasa and Kissinger had the following memorable exchange:

Secretary Rabasa:  … We need to work out an agreement to take care of the long-time residents in the US — to give them permanent status. But this can’t be after they have been here for ten years, because by that time they would be  as American as George Washington.

Secretary Kissinger: Wait a minute, are you saying that George Washington was a Mexican migrant worker?

Secretary Rabasa: No, no. Anyway, Washington is not my hero, Lincoln is. Lincoln and Juárez — Juárez, not Hidalgo. Now the question is how to make this status legal.



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