Tim Carman’s latest piece for the Washington Post reports that chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen are now feeding 3,000 migrants and asylum seekers gathered at the U.S. border each day. This is the latest reminder that what we are witnessing at the border is a humanitarian crisis – one that the Trump administration created and refuses to help resolve.
The piece is excerpted below and available online here.
More than a week after tensions along the U.S.-Mexico border reached such a fevered pitch that U.S. agents fired tear gas on migrants who tried to breach the fence in Southern California, thousands of Central American refugees remain in Tijuana, where they are living in temporary shelters and stretching the resources (and sometimes the patience) of the largest city in the state of Baja California.
Enter José Andrés and World Central Kitchen.
The celebrity chef and restaurateur (and Nobel Peace Prize nominee) and his nonprofit organization have quickly established themselves as reliable presences where there are hungry mouths to feed. But unlike in Houston, Florida, California, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and anywhere else they’ve been, their emergency relief efforts in Tijuana are not in response to a natural disaster. They’re in response to a humanitarian crisis at the border, spurred in part by the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on immigration. In November, the Mexican government agreed to support a new U.S. policy that will keep Central American asylum seekers on Mexican soil while their claims are processed in U.S. courts.
The best immigration reform, Andrés said, is making sure the United States’ neighbors are stable and prosperous.
“You could argue that the president of the United States — it doesn’t matter who the president is — you will want political stability, especially in the countries that surround you,” he said. “You will want to make sure climate change doesn’t get any worse because then you will not have people knocking on your door. Or you will make sure to help people after natural disasters at home and abroad, for the same reasons.”
“I want secure borders,” Andrés added. “I have my three daughters. But I always believe that secure borders means making sure everybody is doing well, as well as they can.”
At this stage in his life, Andrés said he’s not concerned with those who might politicize his decision to feed hungry refugees — and whatever financial effect that could have on World Central Kitchen, which raised nearly $12 million last year, according to its financial reports. The organization also received $9.6 million from the U.S. government to help feed people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ripped the island apart.
“If something unites Democrats and Republicans, it’s what we’re doing, which is to make sure we put humanity forward in what we are doing,” said the chef, who plans to travel to Tijuana later this week.
“We don’t need to be politicizing the suffering of others. What we need to be doing is having more compassion.”