UPDATE: An interview with Taco Cid’s owner, Leanne Snelgrove, has been added to the bottom of this post.
UPDATE 2: Taco Cid has updated their website again to announce that they will now only “except”[sic] media inquiries from Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. What a fun interview that would be!
A Mexican restaurant in South Carolina is raising eyebrows for its T-shirts depicting “how to catch an illegal immigrant” — with old-style box traps using tacos as bait.
Taco Cid is located on Charleston Highway in West Columbia. On Sunday, the Free Times’ Corey Hutchins posted a photo of someone who appears to be a Taco Cid employee wearing the offensive shirt. If the shirt’s meaning isn’t clear enough, the letters are colored with the red, white and green of the Mexican flag.
Taco Cid used to have at least four locations in South Carolina, but is now down to just the one in West Columbia. Since it’s safe to say the owner isn’t going out of his way to attract an authentic Latino clientele, it’s not exactly hard to see why.
After Palmetto Public Record’s story on the racist T-shirts went national on Monday, Taco Cid updated its website to respond to the controversy. ”Our t-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding ILLEGAL immigrants,” the statement reads. “There are NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group.”
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.
The statement goes on to say that Taco Cid’s “food is fresh prepared and served in the SAME QUALITY and QUANTITY, regardless of your race, religion or political views.” Though given the restaurant’s one-star rating, that’s not exactly saying much.
“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.”
In addition to being a run-on sentence, this point is wildly misleading. As Palmetto Public Record reported back in June, undocumented immigrants actually contribute a great deal to a state’s economy — and removing them through deportation or draconian immigration policies would have an equally chilling effect on the recovering economy:
About 445,000 undocumented immigrants were living in Arizona as of 2008, according to Pew Hispanic Center data. That year, Arizona’s undocumented workforce added more than $42 billion to the state’s economic output — the total value of all goods and services produced in the economy. Much of that economic benefit came as tax revenue, with undocumented workers contributing an estimated $2.8 billion in total taxes to Arizona’s economy, including nearly $1.8 billion in sales tax revenue alone.
In fact, the output and spending of just undocumented workers generated 581,000 Arizona jobs in 2008 — something legal residents can appreciate as well.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that only 55,000 undocumented immigrants were living in South Carolina as of 2010, or about 12 percent of the size of Arizona’s population. Still, adding 12 percent of $42 billion to South Carolina’s economy is no small amount (it’s $5.04 billion, to be exact) in a state that is still struggling more than others to recover from the ongoing recession.
Taco Cid’s statement also asks, “Is it racist to disagree with those who are not supporting the American system?” No, it isn’t — but Taco Cid’s offensive T-shirt is not a political statement. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when you use racist imagery to convey your point, that’s when you cross the line.
Taco Cid’s owner, Leanne Snelgrove, spoke to WIS-TV Tuesday afternoon: