Tag Archives: Benicia Police Department

Is ‘La Migra’ racist and dangerous, or is it just for fun?

Sheri Leigh speaks with a former Benicia High School student about ‘La Migra’ for one player’s more positive perspective

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

As I continue my quest for information regarding the La Migra Game, one young man, now 20, volunteered to share a more positive experience with me. He had played the game in the part of an ‘escapee’ or ‘undocumented,’ during his freshman and sophomore years, before the pandemic hit, and found it to be fun. I appreciate that this young man, who prefers to remain anonymous, was willing to give me his perspective. He was pleasant, candid and open with me in our extended phone conversation. He also demonstrated a depth of understanding into adolescent behavior, which I found impressive. 

Although there have been many reports of the inherent dangers and racist implications of the ‘La Migra’ games, some who have chosen to participate have described their experience as exciting, challenging, liberating and an excellent opportunity for teens to engage in a creative, student-led activity unrestricted by adult rules. It is a way for students to become involved in a very physical outdoor activity. One such former student, whom I’ll refer to as Max, chose to participate as an ‘escapee’ during his first two years of high school. He was only able to play twice, and may have continued had the pandemic not caused a halt to all social activities. 

A lawn with kids running away.
‘La Migra’ is slang for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is the name used for this controversial game based on ICE agents deporting undocumented immigrants. | This image is from a 2018 broadcast showing footage of the game starting.

From Max’s account, the game was well publicized. He felt that all students were aware and could freely choose to be part of it or not. He does not recall any explicit rules prohibiting anyone from sharing the selected date, time and starting location with any adult. Max asked his parents if he could participate, and they did not object. 

At the appointed date and time, Max, along with the other game players, gathered at Jack London Park at the corner of Hastings and Rose Drive, where the game started. No one wrote down the names of the participants, but Max knew many of the people there. He recalls those playing as racially representative of the student body at large on both the escapee and the pursuer sides. Max is ethnically of mixed Filipino and white cultures himself, and did not sense any discomfort in regards to his ethnicity, nor did he find the title ‘La Migra’ to be offensive or racially discriminatory. 

In the safest version of the game, younger students playing as ‘undocumenteds’ must travel from Jack London Park to Fitzgerald Field while evading capture by older students posing as ICE agents. In more violent iterations, students have been assaulted both physically and verbally on First Street and Military among other locations. This Google Map shows a few possible routes children can take through Benicia to reach their destination.

The ‘undocumenteds’ were given a ten-minute head start to make it across town to Fitzgerald Baseball Field on East 2nd and East H Streets, traveling on foot while evading capture. The students posing as ICE officers pursued in vehicles, attempting to catch them before they reached safety (the field). Max did not get caught either year he played, but his friend did. The students who picked up the friend dropped him off ‘somewhere else’ in town, where he continued playing with a more extensive route to safety. Eventually his friend made it to the baseball field, too, although it took him longer than most. The whole process was about five hours. 

When asked about what punishments the captured students may have received, the worst Max had heard was that some were egged. He did not hear of any non-participants getting targeted, and felt that anyone could simply call out that they ‘weren’t playing’ if approached, and that would be respected. Max also felt that the students were mindful and watched out for each other’s behavior, making sure that everyone was respectful and safe. According to Max, no one he knows of ‘got out of line.’

When asked about police involvement, Max said he found them intrusive. It was clear from his perspective that the police were definitely aware of the games and would stop to interrogate and intimidate students whenever the opportunity arose, tamping down the collective enthusiasm.

From Max’s description of his experiences the games seem reasonably benign and, from a teenage perspective, fun. There is the thrill of being chased, of participating in something edgy and loosely structured, and of being victorious when successfully arriving at the safe zone without being apprehended. It keeps kids away from their electronics and the internet for at least one active evening. It provides an engaging activity for Benicia’s youth in a community where they do not always have an outlet for their creative energy.

Some Benicia children participate in the game for an edgy student-led physical challenge in a town that some feel does not offer youth enough opportunities for creative expression, outdoor activity and interpersonal connection. | This image is a still from a 2018 KBCW broadcast and has been blurred to protect child privacy.

And it’s student led. Since the game has been going on for decades, obviously, it fills a need that young people have for an all-engaging, community-building activity. 

When I shared with Max the more recent experiences of a non-participating student who was called hate-based derogatory names and shot with ice pellets, he was appalled and agreed that the behavior of those particular students was cruel and dangerous. He insisted that wouldn’t have happened in the years that he played.

We discussed how isolation from the pandemic and the internet seem to have disrupted the development of important moral values and socialization skills in adolescents. It seems that many teens no longer know how to treat another individual who is not in their social bubble with proper respect and concern. He believes that if this type of behavior continues it is likely to lead to a complete shut-down of the games, which would be a loss to the youth of our community. 

Max had an ideal experience with the games, one that in a perfect world would be how it is meant to be played – with fun, safety and respect first and foremost. Unfortunately, with the loose structure of the game, including minimal rules, no records kept, and no oversight, there is a lot that could go wrong. One or two cruel individuals or one safety mishap could lead to a participant or bystander getting injured, being traumatized, or killed, in a horrible tragedy for all.  

The question remains, can we satisfy the need for a student-conducted game filled with exciting and imaginary dangers that do not turn into real ones? 

Share your story

If you would like Sheri to hear and share your perspective on the ‘La Migra’ Game, please contact her through the Benicia Independent. Remember that it is your story that is critical for others to hear, not your name, unless you would like to be identified.
Reach out to Sheri: benindy@beniciaindependent.com
Leave a voicemail for the BenIndy: ‪(707) 385-9972‬

(This is not a live line. You will be sent straight to voicemail.)


Versions of this story may be shared by other print and online sources, including the Benicia Herald. The Herald does not have an online edition. To support our local newspaper, please subscribe by email at beniciacirculation@gmail.com or by phone at 707-745-6838.

Poor representation for Mexican-Americans created a cultural vacuum in Benicia. ‘La Migra’ filled it.

Sheri Leigh speaks with long-time Benicia resident about ‘La Migra’ for a Mexican-American perspective

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

I first connected with Jennifer (a pseudonym) when she responded to my editorial on the ‘La Migra Games,’ which I posted on Nextdoor as well as local newspapers. When I met with her, I felt very much at ease with this highly educated and soft-spoken 65-year-old Mexican-American woman. She shared her experiences as a woman of Color in this community and the pain elicited by the title and intent of the ‘La Migra’ games. Tears came to my eyes as she talked about never feeling accepted by the people in this community and the trauma of growing up as a child of undocumented parents. We are both new grandmothers, each of a child with Mexican heritage, and we both fervently hope they do not have the same fearful experiences

Photo by ev on Unsplash.

Jennifer and her husband first moved to Benicia when their daughter was very young. They moved here for the quiet, connected community and the quality of the schools. She lived in Benicia for 15 years, while her daughter attended Benicia public schools. When her daughter graduated, Jennifer moved closer to her job in East Bay, returning to Benicia upon her retirement. 

During her first 15 years in Benicia, Jennifer was an involved parent of a Benicia student. She was frequently in the company of other local mothers, usually as the only woman of Color in the group. She often felt isolated at meetings. The other women mostly ignored her when chatting or attempted awkward engagement by making disingenuous comments about her ‘exotic clothing’ and colorful styles. Jennifer felt out of place, but continued to participate for the sake of her daughter. 

Jennifer’s conversations with her daughter revealed that her child felt much the same way. Jennifer’s daughter was a good student and became involved in many activities. Most of her daughter’s ‘friends’ were white, but she admitted to her mother that she felt uncomfortable at social activities. She thought she was invited not because she was considered part of the group, but because she was a novelty, a child of mixed race who didn’t feel like she fit in. The girl didn’t see other children who looked like her or who had a Mexican mother. The daughter was so uncomfortable growing up in Benicia that when she went on to college, she vowed never to live here again. 

Events and programs honoring Latin America’s varied and rich cultural heritage are relatively rare in Benicia, even though Hispanics and Latinos represent almost 14% of our population, making them our second-largest demographic group. | Photo by Fili Santillán on Unsplash.

When Jennifer moved back to Benicia a few years ago, she was hoping for more diversity and progress towards equity. Instead, she became even more aware of the lack of inclusion for people of non-white heritage in this community. She was especially disheartened by the blatant disregard for Mexican culture or history. Even though there is a significant Mexican-American/Latino population living and working in the area, Jennifer could not help noticing that there is little to no discussion or celebration of Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead, or Cinco de Mayo in Benicia schools. There has been no representation of Mexican culture at our Diversity Festival in the last two years. 

It is in this cultural vacuum that students began to play a chase ‘game’ they call ‘La Migra.’

When Jennifer saw the alert from the Benicia Police Department on Nextdoor about the ‘La Migra’ games, she was horrified. She saw the title as a tribute to the terror undocumented individuals have experienced over the last 75 years – and continue to experience – when pursued by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE), who are commonly referred to as La Migra. 

Years of cruelty and corruptive collaboration between ICE officers and agriculture operators like growers have added to their fears. It was not uncommon (and still isn’t) for farmers to hire a crew of undocumented workers during harvest season only to call ‘La Migra’ and have their workers rounded up for deportation during the final days of the job, to avoid paying them the agreed upon, below-market rate for the hard work they had done. The lack of humanity in this unethical practice is comparable to antebellum slavery practices. 

ICE raids targeting food processing plants led to the detention of more than 680 workers in one Mississippi county in 2019. Worried children separated from their parents waved them goodbye, unable to return home until their community picked up the pieces. | Rogelio V. Solis, AP.

Jennifer’s father and grandparents were among those industrious, yet undocumented Mexican migrants who escaped from the extreme poverty, disease and unsafe conditions of their homeland to make a better life for themselves and their family in the US. They spoke in hushed tones about their plans should ‘La Migra’ find them. She heard stories about the abuse suffered by captured immigrants at the hands of ‘La Migra,’ and feared for her family’s lives and her own, if something should happen to them. The title of the ‘game’ triggers trauma she and millions of other undocumented Latinos have experienced over generations of pursuit. Sadly, their experience is NOT a game. 

Jennifer had commented on the police Nextdoor article, comparing the game to a hate crime, but was met with backlash. When my article came out, she messaged me privately because she was too traumatized by her previous experience, having faced a torrent of angry and spiteful commentary from many insensitive readers. Withstanding the abuse, she then made calls to the police department, the Mayor’s office and Benicia’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager about the games – but her attempts to elicit some reassurance and response were met with varying degrees of professional dismissiveness. Jennifer still feels demoralized by the lack of concern from both the Nextdoor readers and the public officials. Rather than being valued, she senses hostility from other members of our community and complacency within the leadership of the government and schools. 

I feel honored that Jennifer shared her story with me. Hers is the experience of a daughter of immigrants who has done everything she can to be a hard-working, law-abiding, caring and productive American – yet she is continually treated as a second-class citizen. 

Aren’t we all human beings with experiences and feelings that deserve to be recognized, honored and respected? Didn’t many of our ancestors and family members who came here willingly, come to this country to escape hardship and work towards a better life? Jennifer cares about this community and the people in it. 

If the ‘La Migra Games’ brings this pain to Jennifer, I will share her burden, as should we all. 

Share your story

If you would like Sheri to hear and share your perspective on the ‘La Migra’ Game, please contact her through the Benicia Independent. Remember that it is your story that is critical for others to hear, not your name, unless you would like to be identified.
Reach out to Sheri: benindy@beniciaindependent.com
Leave a voicemail for the BenIndy: ‪(707) 385-9972‬

(This is not a live line. You will be sent straight to voicemail.)


Versions of this story may be shared by other print and online sources, including the Benicia Herald. The Herald does not have an online edition. To support our local newspaper, please subscribe by email at beniciacirculation@gmail.com or by phone at 707-745-6838.

BPD Chief on ‘La Migra’ 2023 – 20 students ‘apprehended,’ one facing charges

Sheri Leigh spoke with Benicia Police Chief Mike Greene about the facts – but not the implications – of ‘La Migra’

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh

Since I know that the police are very much impacted by the ‘La Migra’ Game, I thought it was important to engage Benicia Police Chief Mike Greene and Public Information Officer Irma Widjojo in this important conversation. The three of us met one morning at the police station to discuss the impacts of the game on public safety and trends, but I also wanted to get their perspectives. Chief Green was firm in his opinion that the game should be eliminated, but maintained his position from a public safety standpoint, rather than the personal trauma or racially charged implications of the game. As a professional in a very prominent position of local law enforcement, I felt Chief Greene had to be careful of presenting only the facts, not the implications.  – Sheri Leigh

Benicia Chief of Police Mike Greene is a 30-year law enforcement veteran, long-time Benicia resident and graduate of Benicia High School. | Uncredited image from BPD website.

Our Public Safety at Risk

The annual high school student-led ‘La Migra’ Game is designed to be a rite of passage for underclassmen. The juniors and seniors give the younger students who are participating a head start and then try to catch them before they reach the “safety zone,” which is in another part of town. The specific date, starting, and end points of the game are kept a secret by the upperclassmen until the final moment. It’s a game of chase that is played outside of school jurisdiction. The game is scheduled on a weekend evening in the spring, so the light is varying and lots of people are out enjoying the improving weather and charm of our community. It typically carries over into public areas, including First Street.

A lawn with kids running away.
‘La Migra’ is slang for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is the name used for this controversial game based on ICE agents deporting undocumented immigrants. This image is from a 2018 video showing footage of the Game starting. |

‘It’s not a game to everyone’

Many say that the Game is a community tradition. But it’s not a game to everyone. The Benicia Police Department, headed by long-time Benicia resident, Benicia High School alumni, and 30-year law enforcement veteran Police Chief Mike Greene, finds this game to be a serious threat to public safety and a drain on public resources.

Each year the ‘Game’ is played, the department receives a huge increase in calls that evening, requesting police help on everything from noise disturbances to traffic safety issues, trespassing and assault. The captors are generally in a vehicle, while the targets are on foot. When captors spot one of their targets, a chase ensues. This leads to unsafe and even reckless driving by young and inexperienced drivers, and young people on foot jumping fences, going on to private property, and/or running in and out of traffic to avoid “capture.”

In the more recent years, it appears there has been an increase in the vehemence of the chase. Some of the participants are publicly yelling profanities and racially or sexually charged names at their targets as they pursue. This year and last, a few of the pursuers used a gel-pellet gun (Orbeez brand) to brandish and fire at their targets.

This is the Orbeez-brand ‘P90 Assault Rifle.’ Orbeez sells a variety of gel-pellet weapons mimicking the appearance of real weapons, including this gel-pellet assault rifle, a submachine gun and a gatling gun. | Image from Orbeez Gun’s website.

Worse yet, there are young people who did not intend to participate, many of whom did not even know the game was in play, who have been targeted. This creates fear and trauma among the unwitting visitors and members of our community, and takes away from providing a safe environment for everyone that the police department and community leaders work so hard to sustain.

20 Benicia youth ‘apprehended’ in 2023; one student referred to Solano DA

When looked at from a broad perspective, there is a tremendous amount of potential for community disaster. The likelihood of someone getting seriously injured or killed, whether or not they are actually “playing,” is high. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where a student being chased runs into the street to avoid capture and is hit by a car. Or a small child inadvertently wanders between a pursuer who is firing a gel-pellet gun and a target and is hit in a vulnerable part of their body. It is only a matter of time before something disastrous occurs. In addition, the ‘Game’ creates trauma for those who are not voluntarily involved and yet are affected – who are, in effect, collateral damage.  [Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: Toy guns can kill. Sometimes they kill directly, like when a 13-year-old girl was shot in the eye with a BB pellet on Independence Day, 2022. Sometime they kill indirectly — police have killed at least 245 people carrying toy guns after mistaking them for real firearms, according to the Washington Post.]

‘La Migra’ is costly, and Benicians pay the price

Police Chief Mike Greene is very much in favor of disbanding the ‘La Migra’ Game. The police department maintains a proactive enforcement approach by working in conjunction with the Benicia Unified School District and other community agents.

This year, they were able to learn the time and date the ‘Game’ was to be held, about a week ahead of time. The chief put five additional officers on active duty that evening, most of them on overtime. Officers were on hand to follow through when calls came in, and approximately 20 teens who were involved with the ‘Game’ were apprehended.

After the young people received a lecture on public safety, their guardians were called, and the circumstances and safety concerns regarding the Game’s danger’s were explained before remanding the youths to parental custody. One youth was referred to the District Attorney’s office on charges of battery for use of a gel-pellet gun. Although these efforts tapped police and community resources on an already tight budget, it was the most success the police force has had at intervening in the ‘Game’ and curtailing some of the dangers. They will continue their advanced efforts into the future until the ‘Game’ is no longer a threat to our community.

From a purely objective standpoint, Benicia is a safe community. According to the statistics put out by the United States Department of Justice, the crime rate in the City of Benicia is relatively low. For example, in 2019, we had 16 reports of violent crime, which is much lower than nearly all other Bay Area cities of a similar size, such as El Cerrito (152) and East Palo Alto (144) and Pleasant Hill (88). ‘La Migra’ threatens the status Benicia has earned by creating an unsafe environment for participants and non-participants alike.

It needs to stop.

Sheri Leigh to join BUSD Board President Sheri Zada in discussion about racism in schools Tuesday, June 13, 7pm (over Zoom)

Sheri Leigh has been involved in matters of equity and restorative justice practice throughout most of her adult life.  She has volunteered on Equity committees at nearly all of her workplaces; at three different high schools, she introduced and facilitated “Link Crew,” a program designed to welcome and include all high school newcomers. She has been a supporting member of Benicia Black Lives Matter since 2020.  Sheri is the facilitator and author of the “Our Voices” articles on matters of current and historical racial injustices, and is currently working on exposing the complex, somewhat dangerous, and often damaging tradition of Benicia’s “La Migra” games.

Sheri Zada is President of the Benicia Unified School District School Board.  She has been on the board since 2018.  Sheri is a retired school librarian and union rep.  She also has worked with special needs children.  She is the mother of two sons.  Sheri has also been on the City of Benicia Tourism Committee.  She is a strong advocate to stand up against gun violence and was an organizer for the first  Benicia March for Our Lives.

This event is free and open to the public, not just PDB members. Use the Zoom information below to access the meeting.

Join PDB Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82362109045?pwd=bG9SMzE3RnA5VlJWeXhUMWhUNjk5Zz09

Meeting ID: 823 6210 9045
Passcode: 039610

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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdtJHvmFU6

Share your story

If you would like Sheri to hear and share your perspective on the ‘La Migra’ Game, please contact her through the Benicia Independent. Remember that it is your story that is critical for others to hear, not your name, unless you would like to be identified.
Reach out to Sheri: benindy@beniciaindependent.com
Leave a voicemail for the BenIndy: ‪(707) 385-9972‬

(This is not a live line. You will be sent straight to voicemail.)


Versions of this story may be shared by other print and online sources, including the Benicia Herald. The Herald does not have an online edition. To support our local newspaper, please subscribe by email at beniciacirculation@gmail.com or by phone at 707-745-6838.

‘Is Benicia a Sundown Town?’

Sheri Leigh continues her reporting on ‘La Migra’

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh

I first heard about the particular incident involving this young person when listening to a recording from a Town Hall–style meeting that occurred on April 28, 2022. The pain in the voice of the then 16-year-old clearly came through even on the less-than-ideal recording as he told his story to those in attendance. He completely captured my heart and my attention. I was put in contact with his mother who spoke to her son about my article, and they both agreed to meet with me at Rragg’s Coffee Shop one quiet afternoon. They were waiting for me at a corner table when I walked in. The young man who told his story to me was a year older in body than when the event took place, but decades older in spirit. His voice and mannerisms were that of a mature, intelligent, gentle young man who had experienced trauma but was determined to share his story so that others in the future would not have to endure the same treatment. His mother was clearly supportive of her son, and was trying hard to balance her protective instincts with her need to let her son feel the pain of speaking his truth. Although tears came to her eyes while he told his story she fought through them and gave him space. Later, on the phone with me, she and I both cried. – Sheri Leigh

‘Is Benicia a Sundown Town?’

In 2022, Benicia organizers put on a Town Hall–style meeting to raise awareness about the danger and trauma that can come from ignoring or downplaying the ‘Game’s’ violent, racist framing. | KTVU Fox 2.

As experienced by a 17-year-old Latino and Indigenous male, who is also 5-year Benicia resident

I started school here in Benicia in 2017, but it wasn’t until last year that I woke up to the danger that is inflicted on young people who are labeled as different because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation or gender identification. 

My awakening happened on a Friday evening on the eve of spring break, 2022. My friend, a young female of color, and I were walking around on First Street. We could sense an excited tension in town. There seemed to be more traffic and more noise, which we chalked up to young people in anticipation of vacation.

Escalation from game to assault

We were crossing First Street after getting ice cream when the occupants of a large white truck drew our attention by loudly revving the engine. As we looked towards them, one of the passengers, a white male, put his head out of the window and started making barking sounds and yelling something unintelligible at my friend. This angered me, and I told him to “screw off.”

The assault described here took place on Benicia’s First Street, near restaurants and businesses usually considered safe spaces for teens and youth. | Image from 2022 KTVU broadcast.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth when a passenger said to the others in the car, “Let’s get them!” The truck made a sudden and aggressive turn so that they were driving parallel with us. They started shouting derogatory things, calling me a “f—t” and my friend the n-word.

Now nervous, we tried to ignore them and walk away as fast as possible. As we were quickening our pace, we heard metallic clicking noises from the truck and a gun was fired at us. I was hit in the face near my eye and across my hand, and my friend was hit on her torso. We didn’t know at the time that they were shooting ice from a gel pellet gun. The pain was very real. The gun looked real to us, too. The truck continued up First Street, but we could hear our original assailant yelling, “Hurry up and turn around, so we can get those m—f—s.” 

We didn’t wait for their return. Instead, we ran down a side street and into a fenced yard of a private home where we hid in some bushes behind the homeowner’s vehicle. We were both injured and terrified. For about 45 minutes, we could hear the truck going up and down the street looking for us. When they finally gave up, we cautiously made our way to a commercial building and found an elevator, where we hid again for over an hour while we called our families for help. Because we were in shock, we had a difficult time providing our specific location, but eventually my sister found us. She took us to my mom and the police who were waiting by the Benicia Senior Center. 

Mixed police response

The police took our statements and examined our lacerations. We were badly bruised and bleeding. My traumatized memory of being interviewed that evening is vague, but I do remember feeling bothered that the officers had no sense of urgency or seemed to exhibit any compassion for what we experienced.

I learned later that the dispatcher initially tried to dismiss my mother’s request for help. My mom was told that I had obviously gotten myself involved in an annual “game or prank” the kids play on each other every year on a designated evening around spring break. My mom had to convince the dispatcher that this incident was worth police involvement.

Over the next few days, the police were able to view the incident on film. They identified the license plate of the truck and tracked down the owner and the driver. Eventually, they identified several other young people in the truck that night – one female and the rest males; all white; all attendees of Benicia Unified; and all but one under the age of 18.

They also found the owner of the gun and the gun itself. Although the kids were interrogated, none of them confessed to being the hate-shouter, nor the shooter, and no one was prosecuted. The school district was informed, but because the act took place off campus and outside of school hours, no disciplinary actions were taken.

The only follow up for us took place a few weeks later. The detective on our case asked my mom and me if we would be willing to have a supervised meeting with the one youth who was over 18. We agreed. The meeting was held at the police station with the detective and one other police officer present. The other kid and I were each asked to tell our story and “hash it out.” No apology was required, and none was forthcoming.

When it was over, the detective persuaded my mom and me to sign a statement of release that waived any further prosecution on the grounds that this young man would have his life ruined if we went forward. Feeling coerced, we both signed the waiver. I now regret that. This young man and his friends had enthusiastically participated in an activity which is comparable to Russian pogroms or KKK lynchings and have not had to endure any significant consequences.

A game for some, a nightmare for others

The so-called game is called “La Migra (Immigration) Night” and, although the title has changed over time, it has been going on for decades. I have since learned that it is a night where many upperclassmen students, usually white and usually male, chase down the underclassmen. They have been known to harass, kidnap, and, as in my case, assault other students of color or anyone else who is different and/or appears weak and vulnerable, whether or not they are an actual participant.

ICE Agents menace a parade
ICE’s enforcement practices create racist narratives primarily targeting Latino individuals. These issues are echoed in and reinforced by the Game. | Uncredited image.

Nearly all of the students know about this “game.” Some of the underclassmen willingly take part, taking on the challenge of being chased. Many others stay in for the night, afraid of the possible consequences of being “captured” and/or knowing that the “game” is morally, ethically, and legally wrong. I was unaware of this long-time tradition because of my relative newness to the community and because Covid interfered with school activities for a significant amount of time between my arrival here and last year. Since that evening last year, I learned that an estimated 50-75% of the white upperclassmen boys participate in the chase. And it’s horrifying.

Although the evening may be over for the young people in the truck, it is not over for me. I suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress and I am no longer comfortable participating in school or district-wide events, including senior prom. It’s difficult for me to attend school. Now I avoid walking down First Street and have since that evening over a year ago. I am not able to enjoy or be part of this beautiful community.

I feel like I am living in a Sundown Town – one where it is not safe for those who are different or vulnerable to be out at night.
It certainly does not feel safe to me.

Share your story

If you would like Sheri to hear and share your perspective on the ‘La Migra Game,’ please contact her through the Benicia Independent. Remember that it is your story that is critical for others to hear, not your name, unless you would like to be identified.
Reach out to Sheri: benindy@beniciaindependent.com
Leave a voicemail for the BenIndy: ‪(707) 385-9972‬

(This is not a live line. You will be sent straight to voicemail.)


Versions of this story have been shared by other print and online sources, including the Benicia Herald. The Herald  does not have an online edition. To support our local newspaper, please subscribe by email at beniciacirculation@gmail.com or by phone at 707-745-6838.