"It sends a message of intolerance," said Daniel Serna, a third generation Mexican American and Benicia resident who couldn't believe the letter that arrived in his inbox Thursday from the principal of Benicia High School. It alerts parents to a game the students play called "La Migra."
"What I believe is the older kids act like immigration officials rounding up the under classmen," said Serna.
Essentially, students have fun based on the theme of an ICE raid. The kids have played it for years. "Well, basically the whole school wants to do it," said 16-year-old Ryan Balmediano. "They want to have fun but I don't think it is fun at all."
Until now, "La Migra" has been the biggest open secret in town, with parents not included.
"I had heard about it, but I don't like the way it sounds when I say I hadn't thought about it," said Denee Callahan. Her son has played the game, "But he never explained it that way."
In Thursday night's email to parents, principal Barbara Kleinschmidt wrote, "We want to provide awareness about this event and see it brought to an end."
There are reports of extremely unsafe situations, including unsafe driving, speeding, physical contact causing injury, unsafe physical detainment, and students being left without the ability to contact someone to pick them up."
Beyond releasing the letter, neither the high school nor the district has said anything else. Superintendent Dr. Charles Young's office did not return repeated calls, referring reporters to the letter.
"I would ask why does he wait until the last minute to notify parents?" asked Daniel Serna. "I see it as the district covering their behinds."
ABC7 News asked Ryan Balmediano if administrators said anything about "La MIgra" to students Friday.
"Not that I have heard of," she said.
"Did they talk about sensitivity?"
"Do you think they should have?"
Portrait of a controversial issue in a picture perfect town with, tonight, what appears to be a somewhat crooked frame.
"It continues the pattern," said Daniel Serna. "Whether you are third generation or second, you are a Mexican and when you attack the undocumented people you attack us."
Since when is an after school game of chase and capture named “La Migra” (after #ICE raids) not okay at Benicia High School?— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) April 13, 2018
It is scheduled for tonight. District doesn’t condone but cannot stop it. #abc7now pic.twitter.com/fFsYcoVUk0