Cinco de Mayo festivals in Philadelphia have been canceled, amid growing fears over the enforcement of illegal immigration.
El Carnaval de Puebla, which for a decade has drawn thousands of revelers to South Philly, won’t move ahead as planned this year for fear that attendees — many of whom travel from other American cities and Mexico — could be targeted by federal immigration agents, event organizer Edgar Ramirez said.
“We don’t want any incidents. There’s a little bit of fear in the community,” he said. “It’s sad to cancel the event, but we don’t want difficulties for anyone.”
The decision came after Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arrested 248 people in Mid-Atlantic states during a two-week raid.
“ICE’s enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven,” ICE spokesperson Khalid Walls told the NBC “(ICE) does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”
It appears that, in addition to ensuring attendees aren’t targeted, El Carnaval de Puebla wanted to make a political statement about this state of affairs.
Ramirez said he “wants to see the community treated with respect,” while one of the event’s founders, David Piña, told Philadelphia-based Al Día that a secondary message behind the cancellation is “to raise a voice of protest” opposing the White House stance on immigration.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) told WCAU that he hopes to bring the carnival back in the future.
“I’m devastated to hear that ICE has had such a chilling effect that Philadelphians can no longer feel comfortable engaging in this public celebration,” Kenney said.