José Andrés pens pro-immigration opinion piece for The Washington Post

The Daily Meal

Spanish-American celebrity chef José Andrés published a personal essay in The Washington Post on January 18 in which he detailed the value of immigrants as humans and workers. He began by telling the story of a Salvadoran kitchen worker named Manuel, who walked across the border into America circa 1997. Four years later, Manuel was granted temporary protection status (TPS) and began cooking at Jaleo - Andrés’ Spanish restaurant.

Over time, the Michelin-starred chef has come to know Manuel as a hardworking, tax-paying man dedicated to raising three children: a son with DACA status and two American-born children.

“I just want to work to be able to send my two American-born children to university; I want them to have a better life than mine,” Manuel told Andrés. But because of the Trump administration’s ambitions to deport undocumented immigrants, the future of Manuel’s family is up in the air.


Furthermore, Andrés says the policy shift could crumble the restaurant industry and damage the economy.

“Because restaurants are among the main employers of these immigrants (along with construction companies, landscape businesses and child-care services), the restaurant industry stands to be particularly hard hit,” Andrés wrote. “Immigrants, including Salvadorans and other Central Americans, make up more than half of the staff at my restaurants, and we simply could not run our businesses without them. With national unemployment at 4 percent, there aren’t enough U.S.-born workers to take their places - or cover the employment needs of a growing economy.”

So he hopes Congress can work with the administration to find a better solution - like a revolving-door visa, which would allow people from developing or dangerous countries to work in the U.S. for a short period of time and then return home with their earnings. Andrés believes this method would improve both American and foreign economies.

At the end of his letter, the humanitarian chef signs off with a message for the president: “Walls will not make America safer or greater. But the money our immigrants send back home most certainly does, because economic stability contributes to political stability and international security. Allowing immigrants to work without fear of deportation or exploitation would help, too, because it would sustain American businesses and support American families. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the American way to transform what might seem a problem into an opportunity.”

Andrés has long been an advocate for those without a voice, including victims of natural disaster, those living in poverty, and people subject to xenophobic rhetoric. His determination to make a change in times of desperate need is proof that José Andrés is the hero we need right now.


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