Let’s play LA MIGRA

Let’s play LA MIGRA


Illegal immigration is a global issue and its shape differs from region to region. “Let’s Play LA MIGRA” written by Pat Mora is written in the backdrop of Mexico-USA border issue, and make out the sentiments of Spanish immigrants who try to cross USA border illegally.


The Chicano writers have said much about the immigrant experience of their parents and grandparents. Pat Mora is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of immigration to America, a history shot through with ambivalence, tragedy, prejudice, endurance, and success – a fascinating range of stories.


The Title LA MIGRA is a Mexican slang for the U.S. border cops. It is in Spanish because the poem is concerned for the Spanish Speaking People migrating from Mexico to U.S.


The poem is divided into two stanzas because it expresses point of view of two characters of poem.


In the first stanza, it states expression of la Migra (U.S. Border Cops) and in second stanza it states expressions of a woman who sings in praise of her Mexican roots. In stanza 1, la Migra says that he won’t let the woman to cross the border and will stop her by using all means – symbolically he mentions the badge – meaning an authority from State, and sunglasses means ability to watch her in desert. Jeep means his ability to move fast in desert. Boots kicks and handcuffs means that he has legal protection from doing anything with such border crossing immigrants and gun means he can even shoot her on the spot if he wishes.


In stanza 2, Spanish women says that no matter you (la Migra) have resources but I have roots in desert and I know where is the hiding places – when to travel in the desert and when not to travel. Where water is available and how the wind signals for change in weather – symbolically she says that la Migra doesn’t understand Spanish meaning does not understand the desert and she knows it better as she speaks Spanish.



The style of poem is to mention both character’s point of views otherwise poem might be a single sided and over all effect of the poem could not be heart touching. The effect of using symbol of children playing a game is an attempt to remove effects of the legality of the theme discussed in the poem i.e. illegal border crossing from immigrants and the methods used by border cops to stop such activities.



The purpose of presenting children playing a game is to portray the innocence of immigrants and the duty of border cops but by using symbols – poet has expressed so much and mentioned what usually happens in border with such illegal immigrants.



The poem is in dialogue format between the two confronting characters – in Stanza 1, la Migra expresses his words for what he has to deal with her and in stanza 2, woman replies and says how she can beat him in his own game. Although poem is full of irony examples but “You can hide and run, but you can’t get away because I have a jeep. I can take you wherever I want,” is an excellent example of sense of superiority expressed by la Migra over poor Mexican woman.



For those who don’t know, the Spanish in this poem reads “sweet water springs here, here, here” Poet does on the most basic level that requires only dictionary translating for understanding. The purpose of using Spanish words is to strengthen the feelings of Woman how much deep roots she has with dessert. Short lines in poetry are always a good mean of expressions. They touch the heart and easily fit in reader’s mind.


Since there are the only two characters talking in the poem, short lines give an expression of dialogue between them although they are not standing in front of each other. “Oh, and a gun” symbolically showing that la Migra has authority from state to shoot the immigrants crossing the border illegally and he is expressing his power and telling other character that he may shoot her as well. “You hear us singing and laughing with the wind, aqua dulce brota aqui, aqui, aqui, but since you can’t speak Spanish, You do not understand. Get ready”. The last line expresses the woman’s Reo the desert and telling that she is fully aware of desert – she know its wind and can know how the desert is going to change in few hours but you (la Migra) is not familiar with desert although you have all resources but do not understand desert language (which she say Spanish). You don’t know where water is – you think mirage – water but it is nothing but you don’t know, as you don’t speak Spanish. Get Ready means, may be you escape or you should be ready to die in desert.


The poem basically deals with the human feelings and does not convey the whole truth about the immigration from border as this matter has many dimensions. Talking about lyrics, it’s a good attempt to show the human feelings but as a whole it does not truly cover the matter and does not provide the whole scenario of this human problem.

Syed Shahzad Alam

A content developer at Jang Group of Companies. He can be contacted at Sh[email protected]

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  • Taj Ahmad

    Not all refugees/immigrants are burden to any provinces of Pakistan, the only problem in Pakistan is there is no check-n-blanced or data system that control
    the flow of refugees/immigrants in Pakistan.
    Pakistan government can adopt this kind of system from Iran and Turkey who
    controlled Afghans and Kurds refugees within their border in different location
    and monitoring them 24/7 for the last 20 to 30 years.