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April 22, 2013
By Melanie Hunter
cns news

( – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Monday that including a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants “jeopardizes the likelihood” of any immigration reform bill passing.

“I think if instead the bill includes elements that are deeply divisive – and I would note that I don’t think there is any issue in this entire debate that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally - in my view, any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill,” said Cruz at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform.

“I think we should all be champions of legal immigrants making the system work, and not just welcoming, but celebrating legal immigrants. I think if we are going to see an immigration reform bill pass, that should be the focus of the bill,” he said.

Eight senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), also known as the Gang of Eight, proposed a bill last week to allow illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship while still inside the United States.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Rubio said illegals “who entered here before December 2011, they have to present themselves.” They will be subjected to a background check, and unless they have committed serious crimes in the U.S., they will have to pay a fine, “an application fee.” If they have committed serious crimes, they will be deported, he said.

The immigration reform bill should secure the border, improve legal immigration and improve conditions for agricultural workers, Cruz said.

“So it is my hope that passing a bipartisan bill addressing areas of common agreement – securing the border, improving legal immigration, improving agricultural workers to ensure that we have workers who are here out of the shadows, able to work legally,” he said.

The bill should focus on areas of agreement, not disagreement, Cruz said.

“I hope that that reform legislation will not be held hostage to an issue that is deeply, deeply divisive, namely a pathway to citizenship. In my view, that’s how we get something done – we focus on areas of agreement, not on areas of disagreement, and I’m hopeful that over the course of consideration, we’ll see some consensus come together to do exactly that,” he said.