"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.
If House Republicans do embrace something short of citizenship, it's not clear Democrats would go along. Republicans control 234 House seats and Democrats 201. Passing legislation requires a majority vote of 218 if all members are voting. Passing immigration legislation is likely to require some Democratic votes, and Democrats insisted Tuesday that nothing but a path to citizenship would suffice.
"America has stood for citizenship," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., 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."
Obama also has said he would not sign a bill without a path to citizenship.
Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle in Texas and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.