What happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas for President Obama who heads there today to sign an expansive executive order on immigration that will allow five million people here illegally to stay permanently.

Last night, in a primetime speech, the President announced his two-year plan to overhaul immigration in the United States by granting legal status and work permits to 5 million immigrants here illegally. His approach is a direct confrontation to Republicans in Congress who have warned the President against taking a go-it-alone approach.

Wounded from the recent thrashing in the midterm elections -as his policies were on the ballot- and amid extremely low approval ratings, President Obama will use a novel interpretation of presidential authority to grant what some call amnesty. He is thus throwing down a gauntlet to opponents of his plan and dragging them into another big battle.

During his remarks he lambasted Republicans for not already having passed legislation and warned them against triggering a government shutdown to stymie his efforts. That was a tactic used last fall in budget negotiations. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed that there will be no government shutdown this time. (Charlotte has also drawn attention to President Obama’s shutdown references last night.)

Newly elected Congresswomen Mia Love from Utah recently said that President’s actions or more characteristic of a dictatorship than a democracy. Many of her future colleagues agree, but even more telling is that almost half of all Americans believe that the President’s powers are more limited than he seems to think. According to a CNN poll released Wednesday only 38 percent of Americans approved of President Obama acting on his own on immigration.

Never mind the mounting disapproval of his actions, the president is adamant about moving ahead.

The Hill reports:

In a sharp rebuke to Republican critics, Obama challenged his political opposition to “pass a bill” if they did not like his actions, and argued his approach could not be dismissed as “amnesty.”

Under the president’s plan, the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents could apply for work permits and deferred deportation. Obama is also expanding eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which offers protections to immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

The Department of Homeland Security will also narrow their focus to those illegal immigrants with criminal records, gang affiliations or ties to terrorism.

The government will also expand the total number of high-tech visas that are available, as well as loosen restrictions so that more would-be entrepreneurs can travel to the United States.

The proposals have garnered passionate responses from Republican critics, who have blasted it as unconstitutional overreach.

The president and top administration officials will fan out across the country to promote his plan in the coming days, including a speech Friday at a Las Vegas high school where Obama called for a legislative solution nearly two years ago.

The president is rolling the dice and (to mix metaphors a bit) hoping he can lure Republicans into the ring. As much as he claims this is about getting above the fray, his actions are the stimulus for a partisan fight.  

While we can see that immigration reform is needed, we can also see that anything done unilaterally and on such a vast scale is going to stir up more bitter political conflict.

Voters are tired of a Washington that delivers nothing to our nation but division, incivility, and anger. We want the best solutions and, frankly, we haven’t seen them in Congress or coming from the White House yet.

The president had a real opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Instead of focusing on partisanship, he could have worked with Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to identify and drive eform.

A perfect solution is unrealistic and there will always be critics, but consensus is better than mandates – after all this is a democracy.