According to press reports, President Bush has not yet given up hope of passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year. Excerpts from wire reports:

Speaking in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, Bush acknowledged disappointment that the legislation — aimed at bringing 12 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows — collapsed Thursday in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

“Listen, the immigration debate is a tough debate. I’m under no illusions about how hard it is,” he told a news conference.

“There are people in my (Republican) party that don’t want a comprehensive bill. There are people in the Democrat Party that don’t seem to want a comprehensive bill.”

But he said that he would, upon his return to Washington, get in touch with leading Democrats and Republicans who do support the legislation to get it firmly back on track.

“I’ll be going to the Senate to talk about a way forward on the piece of legislation,” he said.

“I’m going to work with those who are focused on getting an immigration bill done and start taking some steps forward again. I believe we can get it done. I’ll see you at the bill signing.”

Billed as a “grand bargain,” the proposed law would grant a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, establishing a merit-based points system for future immigrants, and create a low-wage temporary worker program.

It also envisions a border security crackdown, punishment for employers who hire illegal immigrants and an attempt to wipe out a backlog of visa applications from those who have gone through legal channels.