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Benicia officials warn of Friday night 'La Migra' game played by high school students

PIX Now -- Friday afternoon headlines from the KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Friday afternoon headlines from the KPIX newsroom 09:16

BENICIA -- Police and school officials warned Benicia residents of high school students who plan to play a controversial tag game called "La Migra" where seniors pose as immigration agents and track down underclassmen as if they were illegal immigrants.

During the game, which has a long history in some California communities, the underclassmen get a 10-minute head-start on the seniors, who then scour the town to find them.  

Some parents call it insensitive and racist, others say it just has an unfortunate name. "La Migra" is the Spanish slang term for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a letter to local residents, Benicia Police Chief Mike Greene said information has been gathered that the game was planned for Friday night.

"Once again we find ourselves in this situation," Greene wrote. "This activity is not sanctioned by the city or the school district, and poses a serious risk to personal and public safety. We would like to advise everyone to refrain from engaging in this game and any activities that could potentially harm themselves or others."

Greene said his department was staffing up as a precaution.

"We will be staffing the city with extra officers, but this too comes at a price," he said. "Addressing the potential danger of this game costs the City and ties up our officers who can otherwise respond to other calls for service. More importantly, this game puts your children and the public in unsafe situations."

School officials said they were concerned by possible unsafe behavior during the game.

"There are reports of extremely unsafe situations in the course of this event," they wrote to parents. "Including unsafe driving, students dressed in all black with masks running through backyards, speeding, physical contact causing injury and unsafe physical detainment."

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