The story of a Huron County dad deported has reignited strong feelings about immigration in Northeast Ohio.

This week it was easily the hottest-debated topic on Channel 3’s Facebook page.

On Thursday, reporter Andrew Horansky took the debate off the internet and into a face-to-face conversation, introducing two men who are on opposite sides of the issue.

John, a retired engineer, and Max, a preacher, agreed to meet at a deli in Cleveland to talk.

For John, that father broke the law and deserved what followed.

“We’re a nation of laws. If we don’t have laws we’re going to have anarchy,” he said. “I do feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for the family. But I also think we should honor the laws of our country.”

Max felt the issue boiled down to “good law and bad law” and said the father should have been allowed to stay.

“Law actually has to reflect reality,” he said, “And reality changes constantly.”

It is a reality Max knows well, after immigrating decades ago from Guatemala.

“There was a moment when I did not have any immigration status,” he said. “It took President Jimmy Carter’s amnesty for me to actually be able to file for the green card.”

Still, amnesty is a word that worries John, who believes it could lead to a flood of people “trying to get in here to take advantage of that situation.”

“I only advocate for the ones who are already here and not felons,” Max replied. “If you’re a felon you really need to go back.”

Before too long, it was clear the men had more on common than just the reubens they ordered.

“You know, the United States is the greatest place to live, no question about that,” Max said about 30 minutes into their conversation.

John agreed.

“Let’s leave the emotions aside for a little bit. Let’s use some common sense and let’s be compassionate,” said Max.

John chuckled. “The preacher talks very good,” he said. “I’m impressed!”