When he was 15 years old, Alonso Guillén immigrated illegally to the United States. Eventually he worked as a host for a local Texas radio station with a work permit granted through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Last August 29 Guillén was killed while attempting to rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Guillén, along with nearly 800,000 others, received protected status from DACA, an executive order issued by former President Obama in June 2012, which protected undocumented immigrants who had entered the U.S. as children. The program came with stringent requirements: applicants must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16, lived in the country since 2007, be under 31 years old, received a high school diploma or GED or currently attend school, and not be convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors. The average DACA recipient came to the U.S. at the age of six, and many have no recollection at all of the countries they’ve immigrated from.

DACA has long been accused of being unconstitutional as an overreaching executive authority. In June, 11 conservative states’ attorneys general banded together and threatened to sue the Trump administration if it did not end the program. Additionally, Trump’s own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has stated that he would not defend the order in court.

Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that Donald Trump’s legacy is entirely predicated on the negation of Obama’s; looked at through this lens, it was never a question of if he would end DACA, but when. When Trump finally made up his mind on September 5, he decided to give the program a six-month grace period to spur Congress to legislate the fate of the DACA recipients, calling on them, in an utterly banal tweet, to act: “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!”

Washington is playing hot potato with 800,000 lives. Trump has decided that he simply does not want to deal with DACA. By passing the buck to Congress, he believes that he will not have to take responsibility for the outcome. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, hoped the president would deal with it. Though some may want to continue DACA, any immigration reform sympathetic to the undocumented is political poison for Republicans hoping to keep their seats.

The original DREAM Act, a piece of legislation similar to the DACA program, was first proposed by senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) in 2001. It has made its rounds several times over the past 16 years, but as Republicans became increasingly hard-line, even Hatch—the bill’s original Republican co-sponsor—was forced to back out.

Now, passage of the DREAM Act or its equivalent is imperative. Republicans have proven time and again that they are incapable of governing or simply have no will to. Though they hold majorities in both houses of Congress and control the White House, they have been unable to enact any meaningful piece of legislation, as evidenced by their numerous failings on healthcare. Therefore, the Democrats must find a way to force the act through.

Luckily, an opportunity presents itself in the form of the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling must be raised in order to allow the government to make good on its debts. It is therefore regarded as “must-pass legislation,” and passing it requires bipartisan support.

Early in September, Trump accepted a proposal by Democratic leaders to extend government borrowing for three months, much to the surprise and annoyance of the Republicans. In December, when the ceiling will have to be renegotiated, Democrats have the power to tack on legislative demands, which would force Republicans to vote for its passage.

Deporting 800,000 men and women to countries they hardly know is unspeakably cruel, and polls consistently show that the majority of Americans in both political parties support some kind of accommodation for the so-called DREAMers. They have built their lives here, they work and pay taxes—280 billion dollars in tax revenue over the next ten years would be lost without them—they are, for all intents and purposes, Americans, and we have a duty to protect them.