Foodie politics: Renowned chef and new U.S. citizen Jose Andres stirs up immigration debate

Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players

The Fine Print

Since he immigrated to the U.S. from Spain 23 years ago, chef Jose Andres has been spicing up the nation’s restaurant scene. And now, having recently become a U.S. citizen, he’s also stirring up the debate on immigration reform.

“The very simple question we need to ask in Congress is: why are we making something so simple so political?” Andres told “The Fine Print” over a lunch of tapas at his popular Jaleo restaurant.

While Andres qualifies that food - not politics – is his area of expertise, he said he feels compelled to speak out on the topic.

“We have 11 million people - some people would call them undocumented, other people will call them illegals - but people,” he said. “They're here, performing duties, working somewhere, in the farms, in the fishing industry, maybe in restaurants, and somehow we don't give them the opportunity to belong is kind of not fair. “

But the chef used choice words to avoid getting entangled in what has become a deadlocked and partisan debate to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

“In this game of politics, it's always kind of blame,” he said. “We had President Bush and President Obama - we have two great presidents - trying to pass immigration reform … Let's find common ground, like at the table. Let's sit down and let's find something that you and I, we can live with, but let's makes sure that those people are taken care of.”

Politics aside, Andres’ restaurants across the Washington area, which include Jaleo, Minibar, and Oyamel, have been frequented by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

“It's an honor to have the president of the United States,” he said. “After 21 years in Washington, he's not the first one I've been lucky to serve.”

In addition to his advocacy for immigration reform, Andres has also become an advocate for solving the nation’s challenge with hunger, which he said is a problem that has not been properly recognized.

“This is a fascinating situation we live in: how the most powerful country on earth, the biggest economy ever, how is it that we have so many millions of people that are hungry? Many of them children,” Andres said. “But we're never going to attack the issue of hunger until we recognize that there is hunger in America.”

For more about what’s next for Andres, and to see what dishes he served, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”

ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Tom Thornton, Ryan Struyk, John Bullard, and Barry Haywood contributed to this episode.