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U.S. taco restaurant t-shirts read: ‘How to catch an illegal immigrant’

"I'm not a racist, but …"

That's the gist of South Carolina restaurant Taco Cid's rebuttal to sweeping criticism of its employee t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "how to catch an illegal immigrant," the Palmetto Public Record reports.

According to a statement on Taco Cid's website, there's nothing racist about the shirts, which show a wooden trap with tacos as bait.

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In fact, the shirts are "witty and comical," the statement says, and contain "NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group."

Hardy har har.

It doesn't take a genius to see that Latinos are the target of Taco Cid's "joke," which uses lettering in the colours of the Mexican flag.

Taco Cid's coyness ends when the statement morphs into a diatribe against workers who have fled their homes to escape violence and poverty in their native lands.

The restaurant claims that illegal immigrants cause Americans to "work harder and pay more in taxes in support of their illegal activities." But in fact, illegal immigrants represent a net plus for the U.S. economy. According to AmericanProgress.org, households headed by unauthorized immigrants paid $11.2 billion in local and state taxes in 2010.

What's more, immigration from Mexico is at now at net zero because of tightened border controls, weak job and housing construction markets in the United States, increases in deportations and declining Mexican birth rates, AmericanProgress.org reports.

But good luck convincing Taco Cid. Despite a flood of negative reviews on Yelp.com – including "racist shirts and the food sucks, too" – the restaurant had the gall as of Monday to start offering the offending T-shirt for sale to the public.

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Caroline I. Fritz, commenting via Facebook on ThinkProgress.com, says she hopes customers boycott the joint so "the owners of this place can experience the wit and comedy of bankruptcy court."

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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