Organizers of Philadelphia's largest Cinco de Mayo celebration, El Carnaval de Puebla, have canceled the event because of fears that participants will be arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of a federal crackdown on illegal immigration.
The annual parade takes place through South Philadelphia in late April or early May. 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.
Ramirez was sad to cancel the celebration but said Friday it was "responsible" in the midst of "the severe conditions affecting the immigrant community," according to NBC10 Philadelphia.
Last week, ICE said that 248 people were in federal custody awaiting deportation in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia after a two-week sweep.
The six organizers of the Cinco De Mayo celebration decided to cancel the event unanimously.
"Everyone is offended by the actions of ICE. They did not feel comfortable holding the event," Ramirez told NBC10.
An ICE official defended the agency's ramped up arrests of illegal immigrants in an email to NBC10.
"ICE's enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately," said Khaalid Walls, an ICE officer.
Carlos Torres, a spokesman with the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia, is aware of the canceled event and has established a Center for Legal Defense for anyone who needs immigration advice.
When asked about holding the Cinco de Mayo celebration next year, Ramirez said the answer is up in the air.
"Let's see how things are next year," he said.