Adrian Escarate has become the default spokesman for the 800,000 like him, the so-called Dreamers.
"If a Dream Act bill doesn't happen, (we're) going back two steps and in shadows after a forward step," Escarate said.
What President Donald Trump first hinted could be a stand-alone bill to protect young people brought to the U.S. by their parents as children from deportation has now folded into a framework for a sweeping immigration bill that includes a border wall, de-funding so-called sanctuary cities, 10,000 more immigration agents for enforcement and going forward on a merit-based immigration policy.
"I was a little surprised, because I was in Washington, and because we got some good responses even from Republicans," Escarate said.
The 29-year-old master's candidate, in the U.S. since he was 3, is among many who are lobbying.
"All of these people in our community (are) at risk," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said.
They have unanimous support of South Florida lawmakers, and eight out of 10 Americans.
But conservative Republicans are demanding an immigration crackdown, and Democrats are scoffing at it, which means the mix of protections for young immigrants and immigration restrictions the president outlined has a tough time ahead.