José Andrés: Undocumented Immigrants Are 'Part of the DNA of America'
“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,” José Andrés wrote in a January op-ed for the Washington Post, challenging the administration's threat to revoke Temporary Protection Status for thousands of refugees. As the year has progressed, the Spanish chef has only grown more vocal about the vital role immigrants play in American society.
On a new episode of "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN, Andrés presented immigration reform not as a problem, but as an opportunity.
"The reality is these we have 11 million undocumented," Andrés said. "They are part of the DNA of America. We have 'Dreamers,' super prepared Americans, they came here when they were babies. Immigration and immigration reform is not a problem for us to solve. It's an opportunity for America to see."
He continued, "I believe that one day all day immigrants and especially the undocumented ... one day they'll say we're going to stop doing anything until you recognize who we are, that we are not ghosts in the system but real people contributing to the American dream."
When Axelrod asked Andrés if he would consider running for office, he played coy, the CNN article reports. But Andrés has already said he'd consider it—and clearly he has the passion for it. Just a few weeks prior, he told the Washingtonian he would consider getting involved in politics.
“I wouldn’t mind running for senator of Maryland,” he said. “Because I think we’re in need of shaping Congress. I consider myself a millennial, and I think we are going to need more young people on the right and on the left, people of respect and understanding.”
Just recognized as Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation, the chef continues to help feed communities in crisis. So whether or not politics is in his future, Andrés will carry on effecting enormous change in the best way he knows how—feeding people.
"I still want to be the best chef in the world. I’m going to keep working hard on that," Andrés told Food & Wine in April. "But at the same time, I will not be fulfilled if I’m not trying to give back to America and the community and the world that gave so much to me and my family.”