"I realized that I'm trapped here until I get legal status," she added.

Living here without legal status added more stress to the busy teenager's life. Sometimes, running helped her cope. She ran for the track and field team all throughout high school. Chong also looked to religion for comfort.

"I think I'm really lucky to have Christian parents and a Christian environment where I can be around people who support me," she said, "but also I just believe that God is with me."

Life with DACA

Chong obtained DACA protection in high school, making her eligible to work and drive legally. 

"I felt like I could be in this country without the fear of getting deported, but at the same time DACA has a deadline of two years and you have to reapply," Chong said. "It did feel like they put some sort of expiration date on my safety."

Despite that uncertainty, she went onto college. Chong is a sophomore at Rutgers University Newark. She doesn't qualify for in-state financial aid, but she found several scholarships to cover the cost.


She founded RU Dreamers, a club for young unauthorized immigrants. The group meets to discuss current immigration policy and to educate others about their situation.

"They are the most hard-working students at are in Rutgers Newark," she said. "They work full-time while being full-time students to pay out of pocket."

Chong wants to be a lawyer, but she worries she won't get that chance. If Congress fails to come up with a deal, she will lose her status in 2019 — months before she graduates college.

"Every day that they stall this legislation puts people at risk of deportation," she said. "We're just waiting, and we need action in Congress."