Graphic essay

A decade in immigration purgatory: My struggle to become an American citizen

Juana Medina

While the difficulties faced by undocumented immigrants — from dangerous smugglers to deportations — are well-known, immigrating legally can also be fraught with complications. Here, 35-year-old illustrator and author Juana Medina describes her Kafkaesque struggle to stay in the United States after moving legally from Colombia in 2002.

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Juana Medina is the author and illustrator of the forthcoming children’s book, “Juana & Lucas, and 1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book.” In facing her tuition challenges, Medina was grateful to win a Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship award from the National Cartoonists Society Foundation in 2008. She studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, and now teaches at George Washington University, in Washington, DC. While she would love to vote in this year’s elections, she has two years left before she can apply to become a citizen.

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