Sheri Leigh: Assassins in Benicia – La Migra No More!

[Note from BenIndy: There was an error in the headline of this post in its first posting – apologies! The headline has been corrected.]

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

By Sheri Leigh, May 10, 2024

I was watching and waiting to see what our high school students would do this spring with all of the efforts being put into educating our community about the dangers of La Migra Game.  I first heard about this game variation while I was at the Diversity Festival on April 20th.  I was speaking with one of our District administrators who had overheard a conversation between students about the new Assassin game – a replacement for La Migra. As I did my research, I found myself admiring the consideration and intelligence of the young people who put it together.  Are there still concerns?  Of course!  But the big ones have been addressed, and overall, I am reassured by the humanity that our young designers clearly exhibit.

With the temperatures warming up and summer moving in, I am relieved and grateful to report that the La Migra game did not materialize this year.  This dangerous, edgy, and racially charged chase game that the young people in this town have been playing for decades did not haunt our town this spring.  Instead, it was replaced with a much more sophisticated and overall safer “seek and deliver” game they call Senior Assassin.  A game with a sinister title, but one without any racist implications!  

I want to open by saying how proud I am of our young people.  They heard our concerns about La Migra; acknowledged the negative impacts; grasped the potential danger; and addressed all of these issues while still creating a game that is both exhilarating and scary.  

The rules of Assassin, as I understand them, are as follows:

  1. Only seniors are eligible to play.  This removes the hazing component of older students harassing the younger ones.  
  2. You must sign up to be a part of this.  Only those who want to be part of this are In.  Not everyone wants to play, and no one is forced into participating.  Plus the organizers know exactly who is playing and who isn’t, so there is accountability.
  3. Each player is both an assassin and a target.  Everyone gets to experience both sides of the chase.  
  4. As an assassin, you are assigned only one target at a time; and as a victim, you only have one person pursuing you at a time.  This eliminates random targeting of anyone who might be considered vulnerable and the possibility of being “ganged up on.”
  5. The weapon used is a squirt gun.  Nothing more dangerous than that. If the assassin misses their target and hits someone else by accident, no harm is done.  
  6. No cars may be used to chase a victim.  Vehicle and public safety are considered and respected.
  7. If you assassinate your target, in other words, manage to squirt them with water, you must prove it with a photo.  Again, there’s accountability!
  8. If you have been “assassinated” (squirted with water), you forfeit your place in the game.  Your successful assassinator then gets reassigned to your target.  This keeps happening until the final two players left are chasing each other.  

I realize there are a lot of missing parts here.  Not being a high school senior anymore, I have limited access to the rules.  My questions are:  Where do the students play?  Are there rules of conduct?  Could their squirt guns be mistaken for real guns, which may endanger the participants in other ways?  Is there a time limit on the game, or is it only until the final assassin stands alone?  Are there any safe zones, such as school or home?  Are there teams, or is it everyone for themselves?

But whatever the answers to these questions are, I am so utterly impressed and in complete support of the effort of our students. Class of 2024, you have turned things around!  Benicia is a much better place because of your determination to shift the paradigm of the La Migra Game while still maintaining a tradition that is important to you.  Going forward, I hope you pass this legacy on to future senior classes.

Although we have good news, Benicia, our work is not done.  We, as a community, need to offer more teen activities that engage our young people in a way that is meaningful to them.  If we can provide the opportunity for our teens to connect and practice using the skills they have and those they are developing, they won’t be tempted to bring back dangerous and racism-laden games such as La Migra.  

Let’s use the example the students have given us and get on with it!