"Without a path to citizenship," said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) after he and the three other Democratic senators who helped write the bipartisan immigration reform bill convened with House Democrats on Tuesday, "there is not going to be a bill."  Their demand may mean a prolonged battle between the two parties over the question of what immigration reform should look like, as many House Republicans show themselves unwilling to budge on providing citizenship to millions of the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

"America has stood for citizenship," Schumer said. "We have a Statue of Liberty here. It never has said you come here and you'll be second class. We will not stand for it. It will not happen."

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The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama has also said that he would not sign any bill which does not offer a path to citizenship.

But several House Republicans said on Tuesday that these demands may mean no immigration reform bill passes at all.  "That means that Schumer does not want immigration reform," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. "If it's full path to citizenship or nothing else, it means that he's not willing to work with Republicans who are willing to do something a little bit less than that, that actually gets us to having an immigration reform bill, and I think that's unfortunate."

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"I'm not going to support any kind of legalization because legalization is amnesty, is eventual citizenship if not instantaneous citizenship, and if we do that we get more law breakers," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said.

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The Democrats' meeting precedes a similar meeting of House Republicans on Wednesday night, when they are scheduled to discuss the approach their party will take on an issue which many of its senior members say is one of life or death.  Thus far, House Republicans have focused on crafting small, single-issue bills, none of which extend benefits to undocumented immigrants already living in the US.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not introduced the Senate's comprehensive plan and says he will not without the support of the majority of his party's representatives.

The clear divisions between the two parties in the House may reflect the contrast in the demographics of their constituents.  111 of the 233 House Republicans represent districts which are more than 80 percent white, compared to 31 Democratic members from similarly composed districts.  Even as senior GOP members warn of a "demographic death spiral" in blocking immigration reform with legalization measures, many Republicans from those heavily white districts say they feel no such pressure at home for such measures.