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. But this year, after officers from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested hundreds of immigrants in recent weeks regardless of their criminal or legal status, organizers said they were anxious attendees wouldn't feel safe.
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.
The main target of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids are people with criminal records and suspected gang members. Almost 250 people across Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia were reportedly arrested by ICE last week.
Ramirez said that the Mexican-American community, including both legal and illegal residents, was disheartened by reports of large-scale arrests.
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"The group of six organizers chose to cancel unanimously", Ramirez told the news station.
"ICE's enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven", an officer at the agency's office in Philadelphia insisted to NBC 10.
Mayor Jim Kenney told NBC10 that he was "devastated to hear that ICE has had such a chilling effect that Philadelphians no longer feel comfortable engaging in this public celebration".
Rosalina de los Santos said she has participated in the event for nearly eight years and understands why it was canceled this year.
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. Sweeps have stoked widespread fear among immigrant communities, despite the fact that officials claim they are conducted indiscriminately. Agents arrested several undocumented immigrants in the city earlier this month.