Immigrant fear high for Cinco de Mayo

The concern about immigration enforcement could deter Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

PHOENIX - Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican-inspired, but largely American, holiday.

So you may grab a drink with a friend Friday night. But for some immigrants there is no party; they’re living in fear of deportation.

Publications around the country are reporting events Friday night may suffer in attendance because of a concern of deportation.

That ultimately means less money into our economy, according to local economists.

"When you have these types of concerns, it's an everyday issue -- Cinco de Mayo or not,” said Lydia Guzman of Chicanos por la Causa.

So bars and events may not see a huge turnout Friday night, but economists warn the effects will last beyond this weekend.

"If you have a population of literally tens of thousands or more people suddenly decided, I'm not going to be spending the disposable income I have,’ that's money that's not cycling into our economy ultimately to provide services to everyone in the state,” said James Garcia of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Immigration advocates are trying to ease people's concerns with 'Know Your Rights' forums.

"It doesn't need to be that way,” said Guzman. “One of the messages we've sent out is, don't let SB 1070 and what happened in Arizona happen to the rest of the country … It did hurt our economy."

A mass exodus of immigrants would be a blow to our state.

"About 200,000 undocumented immigrants left Arizona [because of SB 1070]," said Garcia. “They didn't leave by themselves. They very often left with U.S.-born children, spouses who have legal residency [and] other people in the family."

They not only work and go to school here, they spend money here -- many own their own businesses here. And multiple industries could be affected.

"If a business owner gets deported, anyone that's working for them is probably going to be out of a job at that point,” said Garcia.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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