I was walking to Trader Joe's for some store-brand Oreos when a pair of black Suburbans cut in front of me as I crossed a side street. Four men clad in black military garb and carrying semiautomatic weapons leaped from the vehicles.
"Let me see your hands," the one on the far left barked. "Let me see those hands."
I raised my hands. Adrenaline surged through me. My teeth chattered.
"OK," I replied, barely audible.
"Down on your knees, cross your ankles, place your hands on your head, interlace your fingers."
Three of the men continued to point their weapons at me as the fourth mashed my face into the hot asphalt. He pulled my hands behind my back. I sucked air as a black hood slipped over my head and I heard the handcuffs click shut.
I was pulled to my feet and tossed into one of the Suburbans. I could hear two people whimpering next to me.
"What the hell is going on," I asked no one in particular.
"Keep your mouth shut," came a gruff voice from the front of the vehicle.
The vehicle accelerated, and I felt every bump on the pavement. It had been high noon and now everything was black.
The vehicle stopped abruptly, and the woman next to me began to cry. The door opened, and I was wrenched out and onto my feet. Something poked me in the back.
"Walk forward," a gruff voice commanded. I obeyed. It was hard to walk without seeing. I counted 50 steps and one right turn. A hand clamped down on my shoulder.
"That's far enough," the gruff voice said.
I felt the handcuffs being removed as a creaky, undoubtedly heavy steel door opened. I was shoved and fell down. It hurt my knees. I heard the door shut and, upon pulling the black hood off, realized I was in some kind of holding cell. On the wall, someone had scribbled "Chad and Todd were here!" in crayon.
It seemed like days passed. Finally, the door swung open and a white man of about 50 wearing a polo shirt and khakis entered the cell. He was unarmed, and that made me even more afraid.
"Mr. John Bear," he said, pausing several beats. "I'm Agent Burns with the Anti Immigrant Crime Taskforce."
"OK, why am I here?"
"I've been looking at your file, Mr. Bear. It says here you are German, Irish, Scottish, a second kind of Irish apparently, French, Danish and one-eighth 'undetermined.'"
"What's this about?"
"You are in this country illegally, Mr. Bear."
"That's insane. I was born here. My great-great-grandparents were born here."
"Yes, and we have no record they came here legally, ergo, you are here illegally."
I was dumbfounded.
"So where would you like to go?"
"You are being deported. Would you like Ireland, Germany, Denmark, France, Scotland or, ahem, undetermined."
"Gee, undetermined, I guess."
"A smart ass, I see. No worries ..."