West Columbia, SC — A Mexican restaurant is attempting to defend itself after employees were photographed wearing controversial T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant.”
The T-shirt, worn by employees at West Columbia’s Taco Cid restaurant, depicts a cartoon drawing of two tacos placed underneath a box trap, apparently as bait. The slogan is written across the top in bold red, white, and green — the colors of the Mexican flag. Controversy emerged when a local high school teacher snapped a picture of the offending shirts, being worn by Taco Cid employees.
Taco Cid has responded in defense of the T-shirts, saying that they were created as “witty and comical.” The statement from the company goes on, using capital letters for emphasis:
“Our T-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding ILLEGAL immigrants. There are NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group. As most tax paying Americans we do believe ILLEGAL immigrants are taxing the system we support and live under, thereby, causing us to work harder and pay more taxes in support of their illegal activities which our government has simply chosen to look the other way.”
The statement asks: “Is it racist to disagree with those who are not supporting the American system?”
The note from the company also warns patrons: “If you do not agree with our views on ILLEGAL immigrants, please do not visit our establishment.”
The Palmetto Public Record notes that an estimated 55,000 undocumented immigrants were living in South Carolina as of 2010, and those workers contributed $3.4 billion to the struggling state’s economy. The Palmetto Public Record goes on to comment their opinion of the shirt’s message, in response to the company’s statement that the message is for illegal immigrants only:
“This is, of course, a bald-face lie, since the T-shirts are clearly aimed at Latinos. As we reported above, the lettering uses the colors of the Mexican flag — and the taco trap wouldn’t make much sense if the shirt was referring to illegal immigrants from, say, Canada. Whatever the restaurant may have intended, the shirts’ racist imagery is an offensive swipe at all Latinos.”
Sandy Jones, a pastor at the Iglesia Luterana Manantial de Vida, a Columbia church, comments on the shirts: “I think that it’s one of the most degrading and mean things I can imagine,” she says. According toThe Free Times, the pastor of an all Latino congregation says she’s preparing a letter to the store owner and has been in contact with sources close to the Mexican consulate about it.
The shirts are available for sale at Taco Cid, and are not the official uniform, according to a restaurant employee. It may also be relevant to note the restaurant’s one-star rating.
What do you think of the restaurant’s message to illegal immigrants?