At the heart of a congressional debate over a federal spending bill is a program designed to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children from deportation.

Daniela Yuliza came to this country illegally, but she said as a 12-year-old girl, she had no choice.

"A man wanted to marry me but my mother knew I was too young," Yuliza said.

Her mother brought her to the United States out of fear. Now, a childhood in Honduras is a distant memory. She works as a cashier at a local convenience store, but what she really wants to do is go to college and become a psychologist.

"In this world, there are a lot of people that need help," Yuliza said

She's what politicians call a "Dreamer," undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

Until recently, they could apply for deportation protection, through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, according to Rebecca Black, an immigration attorney.

"Most of them are not criminal in any respect," Black said. "They're just here trying to continue on with their life as they know it because they were brought here as children."

Dreamers are at the heart of a congressional debate over a government shutdown.

Last fall, the Trump administration made sweeping changes to the program. DACA stopped accepting new applications in September. Existing DACA recipients could lose their protection in March.

Senate Democrats say they won't vote for a federal spending bill unless Republicans also extend the DACA program.

Republicans say Democrats are holding the government hostage.

"The reason we're here right now, is our friends on the other side say, solve this illegal immigration right now, or we're going to shut the government down," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, majority leader.

Hanging in the balance: funding for federal programs ... and dreamers like Yuliza.

"In this country, you have many opportunities, but we're taking them away from undocumented immigrants," Yuliza said. "It sends the message that we don’t have dreams. Every person has dreams. We are all the same."