Renowned restaurateur and chef Jose Andres, a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated from Spain, said Wednesday he is backing out of his deal to open a restaurant in presidential candidate Donald Trump's luxury hotel under construction in Washington, D.C.
Andres becomes the latest to back out of a business partnership with Trump over remarks he has made about Mexicans, Latinos and immigrants.
"Donald Trump's recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International's upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C.," Andres said in a statement.
"More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status," said Andrés, chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup.
Trump has been defiant in his remarks and said he is well liked by Mexicans and will win the Latino vote because he provides Latinos jobs.
Andrés had been the target of a petition started by Erick M. Sanchez, a Washington, D.C. resident and public relations consultant, who had started a petition on Change.org to get him to follow the lead of other businesses that had severed ties with Trump and "Dump Trump." The petition had 2,705 signatures on Wednesday afternoon.
When initial calls were made for Andrés to back out of the deal as the backlash on Trump gathered steam, Andrés said in a tweet that his views on immigration were clear and that all men and women should be treated respectfully regardless of their status.
His decision to end the relationship drew a promise from Sanchez on Twitter to patronize an Andrés Wednesday night:
In an email, Donald Trump Jr. said Andrés "has no right to terminate or otherwise abandon his obligations under the lease," the Washington Post reported. He threatened legal action if Andrés defaulted "to recover all unpaid rent for the entire 10-year term together with all attorney's fees and additional damages we may sustain."
Trump said it would enforce an "exclusivity provision" against Andrés to prevent him from opening competing restaurants in the D.C. area.
He said further that construction is ahead of schedule and when it opens in 2016 will be "a crown jewel within Trump Hotel Collection."
Washington, D.C. leaders planned a protest rally Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C. outside the Old Post Office Pavilion, the site of Trump's future hotel.