Terraza and others who arrived as children and grew up as Americans -- but whose parents never reached the US legally -- are seeking to take advantage of President Barack Obama's decision to grant many of them temporary residency.
"For many of us our first heartbreak was not from love, but learning that we could not go to college, that we could not have the job that we wanted, that we had barriers to getting ahead," Mexican-born Terraza, now 25, said.
Terraza and hundreds of others stood in the blasting summer heat in a line that snaked around a downtown Los Angeles block, all waiting to enter an advocacy center for information on what to do next.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must have been 16 or younger when they arrived in the United States, must currently be younger than 31, have no criminal record and be in school or have served in the US military.
Immigrants of all ages, overwhelmingly Hispanic, were in the line -- ranging from grandparents to young parents pushing baby strollers.
Many spoke in Spanish, but the young people in line spoke mostly in English.
A group of Hispanic street vendors showed up to sell hot dogs, sandwiches and bottled water, while one such trader sold mangos and mamones, a tropical Caribbean fruit hard to find in the United States.
"They came as contraband, just like us," the vendor said.
The residency plan could benefit up to 1.7 million people, advocates say.
Janet Martinez, one of the people in the line, moved to Arizona from Mexico at her family's will when she was only three years old and she grew up speaking English.
"I was 12 years old and my English teacher was organizing a trip to Europe -- I really wanted to go," she said.
"I did not understand why they didn't let me go.
"Then I overheard my mother telling my aunt that she would like for me to go, but since we had no papers, I couldn't leave the country," said Martinez, now 25 and a recent college graduate.
"I didn't understand how much this would affect me in the long term," she added.
Without proper papers there is no access to college funding or any chance of getting a driver's license, as well as other numerous disadvantages.
The crowd was lining up to enter the office of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles for information seminars.
"We've waited 20 years for the possibility of legalization, and even though this is temporary, it provides some immigration relief," said CHIRLA spokesman Jorge Cabrera.
Obama's critics accuse him of pandering to Hispanic voters ahead of his re-election battle against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but he insists it is a "humane" gesture that will allow law enforcement to focus on criminals.
The administration backs a more comprehensive immigration reform initiative -- the so-called Dream Act -- but the measure has failed to pass Congress because of opposition from Republicans, who brand it an "amnesty."
Of the young "Dreamers," 68 percent come from Mexico; 13 percent from Canada, the Caribbean and central America; and seven percent from south America -- meaning 88 percent are from the Americas, according to the non-partisan Immigration Policy Center.
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