March 18, 2017

Philadelphia's biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration canceled over immigration concerns

Parades Immigration
Flags Eric Gay/Associated Press

A demonstrator holds the U.S. and Mexican flags during a rally to protest immigration policies in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 1, 2007.

Philadelphia's largest Cinco de Mayo celebration, El Carnaval de Puebla, has been canceled this year due to rising immigration concerns.

Edgar Ramirez, one of the event's organizers, said that the decision was "sad but responsible" in an interview with NBC10 Friday but had to made because of "the severe conditions affecting the immigrant community."

“The group of six organizers decided to cancel unanimously,” Ramirez told the news station. “Everyone is offended by the actions of [the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. They did not feel comfortable holding the event.”

This past week, ICE arrested nearly 250 foreign nationals in a two-week span across Pennsylvania, West Virgina and Delaware. A spokesperson for ICE told NC10 that the organization "does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately."

The parade, which has been held in South Philadelphia since 2007, attracts about 15,000 people each year.

The event, which usually takes place in April or early May, celebrates the Battle of Cinco de Mayo when the Mexican Army defeated French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

El Carnaval de Puebla's official Facebook page posted an update last week with news of the cancellation. 

"Today we just want to solidarize because together we will go ahead of these uncertain moments," the post, which has been translated from Spanish into English, read. "This year we ask you to be well informed. Not to be carried away by the rumors, nor to make [hastey] decisions."

The organization's cover photo noted the cancellation and had a note that said, "Your safety and well-being is the most important."