A Columbia, S.C., Mexican restaurant known as Taco Cid is seeing a boom in sales of its "How To Catch An Illegal Immigrant" T-shirt following news reports about the item's controversial slogan and the image it features: an open box with two tacos positioned as bait.
Columbia's The State reports the restaurant has sold 400 of the shirts to buyers in every state. Purchases for the T-shirts, which cost $37.95, have even come from as far away as Kosovo. The Taco Cid's owner told the news outlet that the shirts have been especially popular with border patrol agents in Texas.
As The Huffington Post previously reported, the T-shirts garnered national attention earlier this month after a restaurant patron snapped a photo of an employee wearing the shirt and posted the image to Twitter.
In response to criticism about the racist implications of the shirts, the restaurant released a statement defending the shirts as witty and comical, rather than a racist or hateful.
"[...] 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?" the statement read.
While the restaurant has seen a growing number of guests in the weeks since the T-shirt news broke, employees have also seen their share of protestors -- some of who chanted "Shame on you, Taco Cid," WLTX reports.
Daniel Barajas, who was among those who marched outside the restaurant recently, spoke to the station about the shirts.
"Somebody has to speak up. The shirt is being sold here today, it's being sold under the guise that it's just a joke, that it's meant just to be funny," he said. "However just a joke, just to be funny is what the bully says when he's victimizing someone."
Taco Cid has since received six one-star reviews on Yelp.
"Food was lousy and the place stunk of racism," one reviewer wrote.
Earlier this month, Leanne Snelgrove, Taco Cid's owner told WIS-TV she initially saw the "How To Catch An Illegal Immigrant" T-shirts while traveling to Key West, Fla., on vacation.
"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," she told the news outlet.
Snelgrove said the restaurant had received hate phone calls, threats that employes would be shot while leaving work and bomb threats. WIS-TV also reported that at one point, Taco Sid's website featured a statement that going forward, they would only be accepting media requests from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. That statement appears to have been removed.
However, Ivan Segura, with the Council of Mexicans in the Carolinas, told The State that the restaurant should be ashamed for being happy about the publicity they're receiving.
“We don’t care about them selling T-shirts; it’s freedom of speech,” Segura told the State. “But we are hoping that this racist T-shirt will motivate people to come out in support of immigration reform. We want to channel all this energy in the right direction.”