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Kids Are Playing ‘Border Agents and Migrants’ Instead of ‘Cops and Robbers’

Public opinion on the controversial game seems to be pretty mixed.


In Benicia, California, a game called La Migra (Spanish slang for immigration police) has taken a school by storm, much to the horror of parents. The game is, in essence, Cops and Robbers. Older high school students assume the role of ICE or immigration services and chase around underclassmen who assume the role of immigrants. The underclassmen playing as immigrants get a 10-minute head start once someone shouts “La Migra!” and the upperclassmen then have to look for them all over town. The only way for the immigrants to “win” is to make it through a mock border wall on the opposite side of Benicia. For fairly obvious reason, this has residents worried.

“That’s pretty offensive,” said Daniel Serna, a local parent told ABC 30 Action News. “How would the district react if they pretended they were Nazis going after Jews or KKK going after Blacks? I think they would look at it a little different,”

The Bay Area, which is heavily latinx, has a particularly fraught relationship with ICE and that tension has only increased over the course of the Trump presidency. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf actively warned the undocumented residents of Oakland about impending ICE raids in the city, providing some families with an opportunity to flee. ICE still rounded up 150 of their 864 intended targets as part of a push that resembled, in its mechanics, the game being played in Benicia.

It is important, however, to note that La Migra is not new. Writer Gustavo Arellano, explains in a piece about the controversy, that he played La Migra as a child living in the Bay Area over 30-years ago. And, despite the concerns of some parents, many local Latino youths don’t seem to take much issue with the game.

“I want to do it because it’s fun. I’m all for fun and thrill-seeking,” Benicia high school student Elijah Alvarado told ABC 30. “I don’t mind because I’m Hispanic.”

Alvarado’s mother didn’t take issue with the game either because as far as she’s concerned, it’s better for kids to “get together and do something fun outside” than play video games indoors.