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

20 March 2017, 11:37 | Darin Griffith

Courtesy of Edgar Ramirez

Courtesy of Edgar Ramirez

Costumed revelers dance through the streets of Philadelphia for the Carnaval de Puebla on April 27, 2014.

The organizers of a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Philadelphia have canceled the annual event over fears of an immigration crackdown.

Ramirez described the cancellation as "sad but responsible" in light of a wave of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainments and arrests.

As many as 15,000 people attend El Carnaval de Puebla from places as far as New England and Chicago, according to Edgar Ramirez, one of the event organizers.

An ICE official defended the agency's ramped up arrests of illegal immigrants in an email to NBC10. Almost 250 people across Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia were reportedly arrested by ICE last week.

And after promising during the 2016 campaign to deport millions of people who were in the country illegally, Trump's administration has proposed hiring thousands of new immigration agents, building a border wall and speeding up removals.

The festival celebrates the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

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"Everyone's pretty much afraid because they're saying that, basically, ICE is just going to come in out of nowhere", Florencia Gonzalez told WCAU.

"ICE officers make extraordinary efforts to keep our communities safe, and this operation is just a small example of what they do every day", Philadelphia Acting Field Office Director Jennifer Ritchey said in a statement.

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. "This year we ask you to be well informed".

Following Donald Trump's shocking election win and the Trump administration's recent directives cracking down on undocumented immigrants, the six parade organizers, including Pina, unanimously made a decision to cancel the celebration.

Ramirez mentioned concerns among both documented and undocumented immigrants.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D) is "devastated" that ICE has impacted his city.

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