Philadelphia cancels Cinco de Mayo festival in wake of ICE raids

Philly Cinco de Mayo celebration canceled over immigration crackdown fears

Organizers of the annual Carnaval de Puebla, one of Philadelphia's biggest celebrations of Latino culture, have chose to cancel this year's parade, citing concerns about federal authorities' recent crackdown on immigrants.

Organizer Edgar Ramirez told NBC 10 that as many as 15,000 people travel from all over to come to the celebration and called the decision "sad, but responsible". But this year, after officers from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested hundreds of immigrants in recent weeks regardless of their criminal or legal status, organizers said they were anxious attendees wouldn't feel safe.

Philadelphia is a sanctuary city, meaning law enforcement limits cooperation with immigration officials.

The Hill reported that ICE recently announced that 248 people in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia were in federal custody and awaiting deportation.

"The group of six organizers chose to cancel unanimously", Ramirez said.

"Everyone is offended by the actions of ICE", Ramirez told NBC10. The parade and surrounding events is one of the largest Latin American events held in Philadelphia.

Every year, as the weather warmed, hundreds of people would transform a lot in south Philadelphia into a frenetic re-enactment of their ancestors' glory: the great battle of May 5, 1862, when the Mexican army defeated French invaders.

Organizers wrote on Facebook that they didn't want to create another risk for members of the immigrant community and warned people to be careful.

The Carnaval de Pueblo is modeled after the colorful street fairs that celebrate Mexico's military victories over invading foreign forces. For the past 10 years we have been proud to share with our neighbors our tradition.

Ramirez mentioned concerns among both documented and undocumented immigrants.

"I'm devastated to hear that ICE has had such a chilling effect that Philadelphians no longer feel comfortable engaging in this public celebration".

"ICE's enforcement actions are targeted and lead-driven. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately", said Khaalid Walls, an ICE officer.

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