BENICIA (KPIX 5) — An after-school game organized by Bay Area high school students is under scrutiny.
Some parents call it insensitive and racist, others say it just has an unfortunate name.
On Friday night, students will play the controversial game, La Migra. It is the Spanish slang term for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The game has been around for years, but now the school and the district are trying to get ahead of it.
Benicia High School sent a letter to parents this week. It describes an offensive version of the game in which students simulate immigration sweeps. Seniors play immigration agents and the younger students are immigrants trying to run and hide. If they are caught, they’re dropped off at a remote location.
Parent Daniel Serna was shocked to learn students at his daughter’s high school were playing an off-campus game referred to as La Migra.
KPIX 5 asked Serna what La Migra meant to him.
Serna said, “It’s immigration, it’s ICE coming to your home and taking you. It’s about: you might come back from school today and your mom and dad might be gone.”
The event is not school-sanctioned and it happens after hours.
“It’s disturbing in that the school is aware of something that, in my opinion, seems pretty racist,” said Serna.
In the letter to parents, Benicia High School’s principal Brianna Kleinschmidt says, “It is our intention that ‘La Migra’ not continue in our town and that we come together to participate in a new, more positive, and inclusive social experience.”
Still, Serna says the school needs to do more to stop the event.
Parents on the school’s Facebook page are also speaking out.
One parent writes, “No more off campus lunch. No more senior trip to Disneyland…Let them blow off some steam and allow seniors to feel special. Just make them change the name.”
Other parents are defending students. One saying, “The only thing ‘wrong’ about this game is the name, honestly, kids have a lot of fun…”
But Benicia police says offensive name aside, the game is dangerous.
Students caught in the pretend raids are dropped off in an unknown location, and police say the students acting as ICE agents speed around town looking for the so-called runners.
In a statement, the Benicia Police Department says, “We will also have extra patrol officers and will enforce all vehicle and pedestrian laws.”
But Serna is most worried about the kids who aren’t participating.
“How about the safety of the kids that it impacts? The psychological aspect that it impacts? I’m sure there are kids here who are undocumented,” Serna said.
We reached out to Principal Kleinschmidt and were referred us to the school district.
The superintendent of the district did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
District employees confirmed that the game has been on going on for years.