With the news that the Obama administration will push forward with comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the country, the battle lines have been drawn.
A majority of Americans, 57 percent, support a pathway to citizenship, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released in November. Nevertheless, it was the most contentious element of a bipartisan attempt at immigration reform that flopped in 2006. Since that time, Congress has seen the emergence of two contradictory forces.
On the one hand, a vocal minority of immigration hardliners who deride the pathway to citizenship as “amnesty” gained national prominence, with the emergence of the Tea Party and the passage of legislation in Arizona aimed at using state resources to ramp up immigration enforcement.
On the other hand, the Latino population has continued to grow and Hispanic voters, now 10 percent of the electorate, played a major role in Obama’s defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
While the election prompted many opponents to warm up to the idea of immigration reform, the pathway to citizenship remains controversial. Rep. Steve King of Iowa has already re-introduced a proposal to end the constitutional guarantee to birthright citizenship. The bill hasn't gone anywhere, but it did field 90 co-sponsors in 2011.
Check out six of the most pivotal figures who’s opposed a pathway to citizenship in the slideshow above.
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