Owners of a taco truck in Buffalo, New York, apologized Monday for their initial response to criticism they faced for serving food outside of a federal detention center run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Lloyd Taco Truck, which operates four food trucks in upstate New York, fulfilled a request last Wednesday to make a midday visit to a building in Batavia, New York. The building is a federal detention center and most of the food truck's customers on Oct. 23 were ICE employees.
Later that day, the small business, which serves "Tricked Out Nachos" and "Mexicali Spring Rolls," faced criticism from immigration advocates and others who accused the truck's owners of discrimination.
"While Lloyd’s prides itself on its support of immigrants, this event shows it can still do better," Jennifer Connor, executive director of advocacy group Justice for Migrant Families of Western New York, said in a statement Thursday.
The company's owners apologized Thursday for a "lapse in judgment" and said that "Lloyd has deep ties to the immigrant and refugee communities in Buffalo."
"There is no excuse for what happened and we have already begun to update our internal procedures to ensure future truck stops and events align with our company's values," the statement continued.
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Lloyd also pledged, as part of its efforts to "make amends and learn" from the experience, to donate the Oct. 23 lunch profits to Justice for Migrant Families of Western New York.
That apology sparked a new backlash on social media. Some interpreted Lloyd's apology as being discriminatory against law enforcement.
"In what world does a company feel the need to apologize for serving food to federal law enforcement officers who work in dangerous conditions?" Rob Ortt, a Republican state senator and congressional candidate, said on Twitter. "Pathetic pandering. The men and women who work to enforce our immigration laws and protect us deserve better."
On Monday, one of Lloyd's owners, Pete Cimino, apologized at a news conference and said that the company, which has 130 employees, is "not political."
"We make tacos — not war. We serve all communities," said Cimino, who founded Lloyd Taco Trucks with his childhood friend Chris Dorsaneo in 2010. "We go to all neighborhoods. We are not political."
"Why would we be?" Cimino continued. "How could any business choose sides in our politically divided country and ever hope to succeed?"
Cimino described the Oct. 24 apology as "hasty" and said the company reacted "too quickly" to criticism it received early Thursday morning.
The owners did not immediately respond to a request for an interview Tuesday.
Cimino said Monday that in the last week, the company had received more than 5,000 comments on its Facebook page, 90 percent of which were “mad” at the small business and "from both sides of the political spectrum."
“Honestly, we were not prepared for the anger directed at us, it was surprising, and demoralizing,” he said.
Three prearranged truck visits were also canceled in recent days, Cimino said.
“We live in divisive times,” Cimino said. “People get emotional and feel strongly about issues like immigration policy, and social media only magnifies those emotions, but we make lunch and dinner, not policy. We support all our communities.”