A family-owned South Carolina Mexican restaurant has been hit with threats of violence over a controversial “How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant” t-shirt that is worn by some employees.
Taco Cid, in West Columbia, SC, also sells the t-shirts to customers. The shirt features two tacos underneath a box trap propped up by a stick.
The National Council of La Raza was infuriated by the shirts – and accused the restaurant of being offensive.
“Of course it’s offensive, Lisa Navarette told NBC. “It’s meant to be.”
“We would recommend people not patronize this place,” she said. “Sure, because of this insult but really due to the fact that a restaurant this clueless about the Latino community can’t possibly make a decent taco.”
Taco Cid posted a message on their website defending the shirts – and denied they were offending Hispanics.
Our t-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding illegal immigrants,” the restaurant stated. “There are no racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group.”
Sandy Jones, a local Hispanic pastor demanded an apology from the restaurant.
“I think it’s very racist, I think it’s a very racist comment,” Jones told television station WTSP. “If that’s not likely illegal immigrants to animals you can capture with a box I don’t know what else.”
Local pastor Efren Serrano told NBC Latino that “it looks bad because this talks about all the Latinos. It’s not just Mexicans. It’s Hondurans and Guatemalans.”
However, the shirts do not mention any illegal immigrants hailing from south of the border – so it’s unclear why La Raza believes the shirts are referencing Hispanics.
“There are illegal immigrants all over the world – Canada, France everywhere,” owner Leanne Snelgrove told television station WBTV. “(It) just so happens we used tacos because we have a Mexican restaurant.”
“I’m not for illegal immigrants,” she said. “I’m not racist.”
“We are an equal opportunity employer and will hire anyone who meets our needs and is a legal citizen or legal immigrant,” the restaurant stated. “We do not hire illegal immigrants. Our employees pay taxes.”
Some Hispanic groups are calling for a boycott of the family-owned restaurant (which by the way is closed on Sunday so workers can attend church.)
“If you do not agree with our views on illegal immigrants, please do not patron our establishment,” the restaurant stated. “If you agree with our view on American Equality in citizenship and tax fairness, then show your support and come join us for lunch or dinner.”