Taco Cid's 'How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant' shirts spark outr - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Taco Cid's 'How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant' shirts spark outrage

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Taco Cid, the restaurant where employees wear T-shirts with the phrase "How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant" written on them, is looking to focus on their customers more than the controversy surrounding the Mexican-style restaurant that erupted earlier this week.

In a statement posted to the restaurant's website, the restaurant's owner, Leeane Snelgrove, says she'll only take questions from the media on voicemail.

"We apologize for the inconvenience, however, we are focused on serving our customers," said the statement.

However, Snelgrove says she will take two phone calls in particular.

"The only calls we may except are from Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh — but we're not sure its that news worthy," said the statement.

A photo of the T-shirt worn by employees hit social networks this past weekend. The shirts depict a graphic of a pair of tacos underneath a wooden trap with the phrase "How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant" written just above in red, white, and green lettering.

Snelgrove says the genesis of the shirt began in during a trip to Key West.

"We actually ran across 'How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant', and we just spun off of that, put our name on it, and printed them up," said Snelgrove. "We've been wearing them for two months, but apparently, it's just now hit national."

The backlash prompted Snelgrove to respond to the uproar.

"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," said a statement.

The statement goes to say that employees are not forced to wear the shirt, and that the owners 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."

Snelgrove, meanwhile, says support for the shirts have come from as far as the United Kingdom.

Snelgrove says her family-owned business has also gotten a lot of negative response as well, such as threats of bombings, shootings, and plenty of other violent threats.

But Snelgrove also wanted to clarify the shirts, saying that illegal immigrants aren't just those of Latin decent.

"I'm not for illegal immigrants," said Snelgrove. "I'm not a racist. There are illegal immigrants all over the world; Canada, France, everywhere. Just so happens we used tacos because we have a Mexican restaurant."

Snelgrove's only Hispanic co-worker, Riley, is taking shirt orders. Riley says she's not offended,  but didn't want to talk about it on record.

Tito Hill-Guebara, a Latino pastor in Columbia, believes the shirts are ridiculous. He says the message is disrespectful and perpetuates an unnecessary stereotype about Hispanics.

"This is the time where we should be one nation under God. Be united," said Hill-Guebara.

Snelgrove also says she has one shirt for someone in particular if he wants it.

"If Jadeveon Clowney likes to come over here, we've got a free shirt for him," said Snelgrove.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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