Celebrity chef José Andrés, famous for providing free meals to disaster victims, attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday ― and made a point of silently advocating for immigrants through his outfit.
The world-renowned chef, invited by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), reportedly wore a shirt that read “Immigrants feed America.” Ahead of Trump’s speech, Andrés also tweeted his own thoughts about the state of the union, calling for “longer tables, not higher walls!”
“In Tijuana, we met people seeking nothing more than a better future for their families,” the chef wrote, referring to his nonprofit World Central Kitchen’s initiative to serve free meals to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border late last year. “We saw that common sense solutions to immigration will lead to safer, stronger communities at home and abroad.”
Meanwhile in his speech Tuesday, Trump repeatedly railed against “illegal immigration.”
“Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business,” Trump said in his prepared remarks. “Working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration … Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate ― it is cruel.”
Last month, Andrés’ nonprofit also served free meals to U.S. federal workers who were affected by the partial government shutdown and struggling to get by without pay.
Trump’s speech, originally planned for Jan. 29, was delayed after Pelosi asked him to postpone it until the shutdown ended. During the record-breaking, weeks-long shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed or worked without pay, as Trump refused to budge on his demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border ― which Democratic lawmakers firmly opposed.
On Jan. 25, Trump announced a plan to reopen the government for three weeks ― but if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall by the end of the negotiation period on Feb. 15, Trump has said he is prepared to shut down the government again.
At the State of the Union Tuesday, several Democratic lawmakers invited formerly furloughed federal workers as their guests, including 2020 presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Ahead of the State of the Union, Andrés told the Washingtonian he was attending “on behalf of the 11 million who are waiting to be a part of the American dream, on behalf of the Dreamers, on behalf of those children who are separated from their parents without any logical explanation.”
The chef has long spoken out on behalf of immigrants, particularly amid Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and his administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. At an event in 2017, the chef gave a speech wearing a shirt that read “I Am An Immigrant” and made a moving plea for all hardworking immigrants ― regardless of status.
“They are working every day with the same pride as you and I, documented or not,” Andres said of immigrants at the time.