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article imagePhiladelphia cancels Cinco de Mayo parade over fears of ICE raids

By Arthur Weinreb     Mar 20, 2017 in World
Philadelphia - Organizers of Philadelphia’s Cinco de Mayo festivities have cancelled this year’s events over concerns Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents may round up illegal immigrants during the celebrations.
The six organizers of Philadelphia’s annual El Carnaval de Puebla parade and street party have announced the cancellation of this year’s events. One of the organizers described their unanimous decision as “sad but responsible.” The cancellation comes after the Trump administration began cracking down on undocumented residents. The festivities have been held annually in Philadelphia for the past 10 years.
The parade and surrounding events is one of the largest Latin American events held in Philadelphia. The parade, held through a predominately Latino community, normally attracts around 15,000 people and people come from as far away as Chicago to take part in the festivities.
David Pina, one of the organizers, said this year’s event was cancelled because they have received threats ICE agents would target the parade to round up illegal immigrants. Of the Latino community, Pina said they were good people who work and pay taxes.
Last week, ICE announced 248 people were taken into federal custody after two-week raids throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Edgar Ramirez, another of the festival’s organizers, said “Everyone was offended by the actions of ICE, and the organizers were not comfortable holding the event this year.” Ramirez added he and the other organizers did not want anything to happen to anyone, especially to those who travel to Philadelphia from other states.
A spokesperson for Philadelphia’s Mexican consulate said it was understandable why the event would be cancelled but urged people to remain acting normally and live their lives as they always do. He said the Mexican government is with them.
Khaalid Walls, an ICE agent with the Philadelphia office, said ICE follows up leads and its enforcement actions are targeted. Walls said ICE does not conduct random or indiscriminate sweeps to take aliens into custody.
As Voice of American reports, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of Mexico over France in 1862 in the Franco-Mexican War. But in the United States Cinco de Maya has broadened into a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture.
Organizers are hoping the events can be held next year.
SEE ALSO: ICE removes asylum seeker with brain tumor from Texas hospital
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