Acclaimed chef José Andrés became the latest entity to cut ties with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, saying Wednesday that he won’t proceed with plans to open a restaurant in Trump’s upcoming Washington hotel.
Andrés said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post that Trump’s “recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant.” The statement noted that more than half of Andrés’ team “is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.”
Trump is renovating the Old Post Office in downtown Washington, and the Post noted that Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., said in an e-mailed response that Andrés had “no right to terminate or otherwise abandon his obligations under the lease.”
The restaurant had been slated to open in the Trump International Hotel in mid-2016. But Trump, who has climbed into the top tier in most presidential preference polls, has sparked a firestorm of controversy Trump for accusing Mexico of sending “rapists” across the border.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said as he announced his presidential bid in June. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems. And they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Immigration advocates hailed Andrés’ decision, which comes on the heels of other companies cutting ties with Trump, including NBC, Univision, Macy’s, NASCAR and the PGA.
The response to Trump “sends a clear message: Immigration is about people, not about prejudice and political expediency,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. He called the immigration debate challenging, but added, “at least one answer is clear. Derogatory remarks that insult millions of hardworking Americans, including immigrants, have no place in the conversation.”
Andrés’s Think Food Group includes nearly 20 restaurants across D.C., Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. He also runs World Central Kitchen to help developing countries.