Money Crowdfunded for José Andrés’ Legal Fight Against the Trump Hotel Went to Immigration Charity Instead

Last year, ex-diplomate Jorge Guajardo raised $13,130 from 210 people on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to help chef José Andrés fight a legal battle against the Trump organization. Andres was supposed to open a flagship fine dining restaurant in the Trump International Hotel, but backed out—along with fellow chef Geoffrey Zakarian—after Donald Trump‘s controversial remarks about immigrants. The Trumps sued both chefs for $10 million, and they both countersued.

With the hotel now open and the lawsuits ongoing, what happened to the crowdfunded money? It turns out that Andrés’ team instead donated it to National Immigration Forum, a nonprofit whose mission is to “advocate for the value of immigrants,” last December.

“All the help is always welcome, but we can handle the situation on our own,” Andrés says. He felt the money would be better put to use if it went to an organization that benefits a wider range of people. National Immigration Forum helps working immigrants with their citizenship process and advocates for various immigration reforms.

Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to the US and China who is now an international government relations consultant, started the crowdfunding campaign without even telling Andrés, his friend of 25 years. He says he decided to go out on a limb and do it after seeing the public indignation around Trump and the lawsuit. “I am Mexican, so that’s why it meant a lot to me that he would be taking this stance… and I said, ‘He can’t be left to fight this fight alone.'”

Andrés says he first found out about it on Twitter. “Next time, ask me,” he told Guajardo.

As for the money not exactly going toward its initial purpose, Guajardo says he doesn’t mind.

“My concern was mostly just to show that people would stand in solidarity with somebody who took a stance against Trump,” Guajardo says.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.