Cinco de Mayo is less than two months away, but event organizers in Philadelphia have already canceled plans for El Carnaval de Puebla — an annual parade in which about 450 participants march and dance in traditional clothing to celebrate the historic day.
The celebration attracts as many as 15,000 people annually. While organizers typically love large numbers, this year they fear the current political climate could be detrimental to many of their attendees.
The surge of deportations by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials has caused fear among the Mexican-American community.
“Everyone is offended by the actions of ICE,”
Edgar Ramirez, one of six organizers, told NBC10. “They did not feel
comfortable holding the event.”
The news is especially devastating, as it would have been the event's 10-year anniversary.
Event organizers released a statement via Facebook elaborating on their decision:
“Under these sad circumstances, we do not think it’s fair nor the right moment for a joyful celebration. This year we ask that you all stay well informed, that you don’t get led astray by rumors or make hasty decisions. Just for this one year, we don’t want you to take unnecessary risks until we know what we’re dealing with.”
The event’s Facebook page displays a banner that reads, “Your security and well-being are the most important things.”
The event’s organizers were thinking about more than just the local population when they made the decision.
“We have people who travel all the way from Chicago,
Connecticut and New York. We don’t want anything to happen to them,” Ramirez
ICE has spoken out again this decision.
“ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that
target aliens indiscriminately,” Khaalid Walls, an ICE spokesperson, told The
Huffington Post. “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion peacefully without interference.”
Philadelphia's Mayor Jim Kenney understands the public's concern. He told The Huffington Post:
“I’m devastated to hear that ICE has had such a chilling effect that Philadelphians no longer feel comfortable engaging in this public celebration. While we can’t stop ICE from conducting these raids, I want our immigrant community to know that we want them here, we remain committed to being a 4th Amendment City and protecting these values, and we will do whatever we can to help them feel comfortable bringing this celebration back in the future.”