Every day, millions of people like 16-year-old Celeste live their lives shouldering a huge emotional weight forged by fear, uncertainty and separation.
She was only 10 years old when the reality of her family's desperate situation hit her in the face.
Rolando Zenteno has lived more than half his 18 years in the United States, yet he still feels like an outsider.
Another undocumented immigrant -- Prerna Lal -- is fighting to stay in her adopted homeland and dreaming of becoming an immigration lawyer.
As Washington lawmakers try to hammer out an immigration reform plan while avoiding political gridlock, millions of people find themselves caught in the middle -- suspended between two worlds -- while not really belonging to either.
Some immigrants spoke to CNN, giving permission to use their full names. Others chose to withhold their last names, fearing it would affect their legal status. Here are their stories.
Celeste, 16: She's carrying a 'big old rock'
Celeste was 10 years old when police pulled over her dad while he was driving near their south Georgia home. She recalls crying as she frantically translated the officer's words from English into Spanish for her father. She feared her family would be deported back to Mexico, but the officer let them go.
The family got a second chance, but Celeste never shook the dread that filled her that day -- the fear that she could be sent back to a country she barely remembers, or get separated from the family that she loves. That's why immigration reform must happen now, she says.
"It would be a big old rock that would be lifted from our shoulders," she says.
She says any policy changes should create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants like her parents, who are agricultural workers. Celeste says they came to the United States from Mexico to give their children a better life.
Last year, the Obama administration's deferred action program gave her the hope of a reprieve. But that isn't enough, she says.
"It's like being out in the cold and me having the only blanket in the family."
Rolando Zenteno, 18: 'In limbo'
Zenteno has lived in the United States since he was 7, and says he identifies more with American culture than his native Mexico.
But he feels like he's in limbo, and it's a constant struggle.
"I identify myself with the American culture," he says, "but at the same time the American society is like 'No, you're not part of us.'"
Zenteno says talk of immigration reform is encouraging, even though it's a problem the president has pledged before to tackle -- and then failed to solve.
Actions speak louder than words, says Zenteno, a freshman who is studying journalism at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.
"At the end of the day, the political parties will do what they can" for votes, he says.