Phil: So, your man Obama gets “shellacked” in the voting booth for the second time in four years and his response is to ignore the newly elected Congress and issue executive orders protecting 5 million illegal immigrants from prosecution?

Ethan: I know it’s hard for your side to accept, but he’s still the president. He still has an obligation to protect families and build our economy.

Phil: I do accept that, yet he seems to have forgotten that his constitutional oath includes working with Congress to faithfully uphold and create laws.

Ethan: His constitutional oath also includes issuing executive orders to protect the welfare of our country – just like Republican Presidents Bush, Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower and Hoover.

Phil: Past performance, whether by Republican or Democrat, shouldn’t be the rationale to act so defiantly, especially on the issue of who is here illegally compared to those who followed the law. What he should have done was welcomed and worked with the new Congress to make immigration his top priority.

Ethan: Obama has waited for Congress to act and it has failed. The Senate passed comprehensive bipartisan reform almost two years ago that both of Maine’s senators supported, but the House has done nothing. If they want to act, they can. In the meantime, Obama must put the well-being of our country ahead of Washington games.

Phil: And both of Maine’s senators have spoken out against the president’s unilateral action. Issuing executive orders of this significance is not the way our government was designed to work.

Ethan: Republican presidents throughout history have issued executive orders that allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in this country. Republican presidents have unilaterally acted to prevent deportations and grant work permits for Cubans, Hungarians, Nicaraguans, Katrina victims. In fact, both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush granted amnesty to about 40 percent of the undocumented population (the same percentage as Obama).

Phil: And how did those acts work out for America? Did it change the behavior of those who come here illegally? No.

Ethan: Exactly. These actions didn’t create a wave of new illegal immigrants. What these actions did do is allow children to remain with their parents, spouses to remain together and employees to stay on the job. America is greater for it.

Phil: So according to you, we should ignore existing laws and our constitution?

Ethan: Of course not. Presidents should do everything within their constitutional powers to strengthen families and our economy. Indeed, it is far worse to fail to act, when you have the power to do so.

Phil: For me, this issue is so important that the only way to solve it is through the legislative and executive branches working together. I say let’s put them all in the same room and watch the debate on C-Span to determine what ideas should pass.

Ethan: All that you ask for has already been accomplished. As I mentioned earlier, last year 68 members of the U.S. Senate passed a compromise bill with the support of President Obama. Even archconservative Marco Rubio voted for it! If this is the bill you seek, why aren’t you hammering those in the House to act on that bill before year’s end?

Phil: The House is part of a constitutional co-equal branch of government. Its members should not be forced to do anything they don’t want. We can’t have immigration thrust upon us like Obamacare.

Ethan: I’ll let that last comment slide, but no one is asking them to do something they don’t want. Just do something. Instead, they have done nothing and our country suffers.

Phil: I think the House would act if they knew the president would accept something reasonable, like securing our borders, enforcing the laws already on the books and discussing how to identify who is here and determine if they have a criminal background.

Ethan: The bill you describe is what the Senate already passed. But regardless, we already spend $18 billion a year on immigration enforcement (more than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined). In regard to deportation, by the end of his presidency, Obama will have deported more people than any other president in history.

Phil: But now your side wants a blanket pass to allow people who are here illegally to leapfrog those who are waiting to come here legally through the State Department. Those are also people who have families and who can contribute to our economy. They shouldn’t be sent to the back of the line for someone who broke our laws.

Ethan: They won’t. Nothing about Obama’s executive order stops people who are following the rules from completing that process.

Phil: Fundamentally, I just don’t believe that allowing people to break the law without consequence is good for America.

Ethan: I don’t think it’s the best answer either. That’s why I hope that Congress now takes the lead and actually gets something done. Something even more far reaching than what Obama has ordered.

Phil: I agree with that, but I am afraid Obama may have poisoned the water too much with this latest action.

Ethan: I am not sure the waters of Washington could be any more poison.

Phil: You have a point there.