- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - One of Philadelphia’s most prominent celebrations of Latin American culture has been canceled this year amid concerns over the recent immigration crackdown by federal authorities.

Organizer Edgar Ramirez told WCAU-TV (https://bit.ly/2nOhWxL ) that the decision to scrap this year’s El Carnaval de Puebla was “sad but responsible” given the “severe conditions affecting the immigrant community.”

The annual parade has taken place in south Philadelphia in late April or early May for the past decade. It’s the city’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration with as many as 15,000 attendees each year.

“We have people who travel all the way from Chicago, Connecticut and New York,” Ramirez said. “We don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Carnaval celebrates the Battle of Puebla, in which Mexican forces defeated French invaders on May 5, 1862. About 450 carnavaleros, or marchers, take part in the festivities.

Ramirez said he and his fellow organizers unanimously decided to cancel the parade over fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers targeting the event.

“Everyone is offended by the actions of ICE. They did not feel comfortable holding the event,” Ramirez said.

The group is set to meet in the near future to discuss how to move forward with Carnaval.

“I would understand why people are scared or worried,” said Carlos Torres, a spokesman with the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia. “But our message is that we are with them. People should try to continue to live their lives as regular as possible, but in a well-informed matter.”

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