‘Pizza for Pesos’ Is Just Business As Usual

On Jan. 8, 2007, Antonio Swad, president of Pizza Patron, made a startling announcement that has taken Americans by storm. From now until late February the Texas-based pizza chain will be accepting pesos as payment at all of its 59 locations, which are found in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California. Swad and spokesman Andy Gamm thought the move would benefit the Hispanic community, which accounts for 60 percent of the company’s customers. Since then, Swad has received dozens of death threats and hate mail. Many of them read something along the lines of ‘This is the United States of America, not the United States of Mexico,’ or ‘Quit catering to the damn illegal Mexicans.’ Clearly the issue of immigration which has fallen out of the headlines of many newspapers has not left the minds of red-blooded American citizens who are outraged at Swad’s actions. Some have even gone so far as to imply that Swad is leading a silent war against America in order to merge Texas back with Mexico.
All I have to say about the issue is: Get a grip, people! If an illegal immigrant did happen to have any money on him, there is no way that he would waste it on pizza. The very reason that an illegal immigrant crosses the border is to create a better life and earn money, not spend it all on pizza in order to get a few pennies back. As for the whole war idea, seriously people, a war that will only last a month?
Other businesses found along the border, like Wal-Mart, have no problem taking Mexican pesos rather than American dollars, and yet no one has accused them of declaring war against America. Before being the first to declare war, one should know that when traveling through Mexico most stores are more than happy to take American money instead of pesos. Should we start refusing to take pesos in America completely, we are giving Mexico permission to say that they will not accept American dollars either. If this were ever to happen I can guarantee that Americans would find this behavior rather unfriendly and claim that Americans are being discriminated against.
True, many of Pizza Patron’s locations are quite far from the border. Denver, for example, is a whopping 700 miles from Mexico, but there is a large Hispanic community in the surrounding area. Many families in these areas do occasionally travel to Mexico to see relatives and return with a few pesos in their pockets. People need to realize that the point of the program is to get rid of these extra pesos lying around the house, not to trade them. Getting rid of pesos for these families is the same exact thing that many Americans do with their spare change. We save every coin we get from the store and leave them in drawers, not knowing what to do with them. For many, it’s not worth the time to take our change to the bank and to convert it into dollars. Instead we take whatever we have collected and dump it into the nearest Coinstar to buy Starbucks gift cards. What Swad is doing is exactly the same thing that Coinstars do across the United States. He’s taking something that is essentially lying around, gathering dust and converting it into something eatable.
Swad’s e-mail has been flooded with letters from angry citizens who are looking for an excuse to rant about illegal immigration. This brilliant business move, which was meant to increase the store’s popularity among its Hispanic customers, is nothing more than that. So relax, America, there’s no secret plot to hand Texas over to Mexico, just a business playing the capitalist game and so far it seems to be winning.

Elizabeth Rico is a fourth-year English major.