Taco Cid, a South Carolina Mexican eatery, has caused controversy after encouraging employees to wear “How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant” t-shirts. The shirt features a box trap with a stick and two tacos meant to lure undocumented immigrants. Latino organizations have responded calling the shirts offensive.
“Of course it’s offensive, it’s meant to be,” says Lisa Navarette, advisor to the president at the National Council of La Raza. “This is simply a failing business trolling for attention. We would recommend people not patronize this place. 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.”
Navarette’s reference to Taco Cid as a failed business, likely comes because it is the only remaining Taco Cid in South Carolina. The rest have been closed. It is also a one-star restaurant on Yelp.com, but most of the reviews have come after this controversy unfolded.
Efren Serrano, a pastor at Iglesia Nueva Esperanza in West Columbia, which is five minutes away from Taco Cid, said the shirts are inappropriate.
“It just looks bad because this talks about all the Latinos,” he said. “It’s not just Mexicans, it’s the Hondurans and Guatemalans.”
Serrano said the majority of people who go to the restaurant are not Hispanic but some are. “This is wrong and the Latino community doesn’t feel good about this.”
Taco Cid did not respond to an NBC Latino request for comment but updated its website with a statement.
“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. Taco Cid and its employees are not racists,” the statement continued. “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. Is it racist to disagree with those who are not supporting the American system?”
Taco Cid employees wear the shirts and they are also available for purchase, according to Think Progress.
Brian Cohen, is the owner of BeWild.com, which also sells the shirts and says the shirts are not his designs — they just sell them.
“It’s not one of our top sellers but it sells,” he says. “People find it funny, it’s just funny. It’s a stereotype.”
But Pastor Serrano says the Latino community in South Carolina doesn’t find it funny.
“Here we experience a lot of intimidation,” he said.
“This is a very racist state and we fight to get rid of that. We are against anti-immigrant laws and when we see these things it just makes us feel bad.”