West Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A t-shirt being worn and sold at a South Carolina Mexican restaurant is creating a bit of controversy.
The shirts from Taco Cid read, "How to Catch an Illegal
Immigrant." Accompanying the words is a drawing of a box with a stick
being held over two tacos -- a makeshift trap.
A photo of a Taco Cid employee wearing one of the shirts started
getting national attention over the weekend after it was tweeted by
Corey Hutchins, a reporter at the Free Times.
It's obviously struck a chord: the owner says since the shirts
debuted, he's gotten calls from all over the country wanting one of the
items, which cost $35.
Taco Cid owner Leanne Snelgrove says the last 24 hours have been anything but a siesta.
"Not nationwide, No. I had a clue it would be a hit around town but not nationwide."
Snelgrove says she's received comments from praising the shirts to
more extreme measures: "We've received death threats, we've received
Snelgrove claims even her husband was fired by a company and replaced
by illegal immigrants. Our sister station WLTX News 19 asked Snelgrove,
"What do you say to someone who see's the shirt and says, 'that's
"That's your opinion," said Snelgrove. "If you support illegal
immigrants then you support paying tax dollars for other people who just
worked under the table. Let me tell you, small business owners - we pay
We showed the shirt to Sandy Jones, a Pastor at a prominently Hispanic Church is the Midlands.
"I think it's very racist, I think it's a very racist comment," said
Jones. "If that's not likely illegal immigrants to animals you can
capture with a box I don't know what else."
Jones says she's offended by the shirt and wants the restaurant to stop selling it and to apologize.
"When national news is going to hear and think that everyone is South
Carolina thinks like this, that hurts me personally. It makes me very
sad," said Jones.
Snelgrove says she'll keep selling the shirts, even if she is surprised by all the attention.
"The taco business is booming," said Snelgrove. "Come see us."
On its website, Taco Cid issued a statement about the shirt:
"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," it says in part. "As most tax paying Americans,
we do believe ILLEGAL immigrants are burdening the system we support and
live under, thereby, causing us to work harder and pay higher taxes to
support the 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?"
Snelgrove says they got the idea after going on a
cruise to Key West and saw similar shirts. The shirts are selling for
$35 and Snelgrove says she's been mailing them all over the world.
"It's not racist. It's immigrants - illegal immigrants. It was just a t-shirt. Just a t-shirt," said Snelgrove.
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