President Obama is pushing a path to citizenship as a "poison pill" to prevent meaningful immigration reform, Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzOvernight Defense: Senators go to White House for North Korea briefing | Admiral takes 'hit' for aircraft carrier mixup | Lawmakers urged to beef up US missile defense Senators get North Korea briefing in unusual WH visit Overnight Tech: FCC chief unveils plan for net neutrality rollback | Tech on Trump's sweeping tax plan | Cruz looks to boost space industry MORE (R-Texas) charged Monday.
"The part that I’ve got deep concerns about is any path to citizenship for those who are here illegally," Cruz said during an interview with Sean Hannity. "I think that is profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who have followed the rules, who have waited in line.
The Tea Party favorite said Congress could easily pass a comprehensive immigration reform deal if Democrats, and particularly Obama, stopped demanding the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.
Cruz's comments came as a bipartisan group of senators indicate that it's nearly done crafting a broad immigration bill. The so-called "Gang of Eight" hopes to unveil the legislation in April, with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Graham: There are 'no good choices left' with North Korea MORE on Sunday suggesting that the group could unveil legislation as early as next week.
On Monday, the White House said that it was "encouraged" by the progress the group has made. The Senate bill is likely to call for increasing border security, introduce a pathway to citizenship, and increasing visas for high-school workers. A House bipartisan group is also working on its own immigration reform plan.
But Cruz argued that the president knows a path to citizenship effectively kills any immigration reform proposal.
"If he actually really wanted to get something passed, he wouldn't be rolling this out as a partisan attack issue," Cruz said. "You look at the State of the Union, that was a divisive speech, that was in your face. And he knows full well that a path to citizenship won't pass the House."
"He knows that it's a partisan, divisive issue and he holds everything else hostage to that wedge issue," Cruz added.
Asked what exactly he would like to see in an immigration reform bill, Cruz said that legislation should include "tripling the border patrol" and streamlining the immigration process for legal immigrants.
"I think that it is likely that there could be some bipartisan solution to those who are here illegally if a path to citizenship were taken off the table," Cruz continued. "But as long as the president and [Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.)] insist on a path to citizenship they know full well it will never pass the House of Representatives and then it's just a political football rather than actually trying to fix the problem."
Cruz predicted that an immigration reform plan would likely pass the Senate before being defeated in the House and said the White House was prepared to exploit that politically.
"Look, they have the votes to force something through the Senate. I think whatever mess comes out of the so-called Gang of Eight, all or virtually all of the Democrats will vote for it and it's likely they'll get a fair number of Republicans to vote for it to so they can probably get it through the Senate," Cruz added. "If it includes a path to citizenship, I don't think it'll pass the House, and I think that's exactly what the Obama White House wants."