U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered hope Monday for reviving a stalled immigration bill, saying the current system is "indefensible" and is responsible for creating a "de facto amnesty" for millions of illegal immigrants.
The Kentucky Republican said he thought his Democratic counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "gave up on the bill too soon" after lengthy Senate debate. McConnell said there's a "good chance" the Senate will take up the legislation again.
In a conference call with Kentucky reporters, McConnell said the fundamental question is whether the status quo is better than the proposed changes.
McConnell acknowledged that Republican senators are divided on the issue.
"I think the status quo is indefensible," McConnell said. "The status quo is what's produced 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants in the country with no real plan - a de facto amnesty if you will for those who are already here."
McConnell said the Senate "ought to make an effort to improve on a status quo that seems to me almost everybody thinks is not good."
The senator refused to tip his hand about provisions in the legislation.
"This is a big compromise with a lot of different proposals in it," he said. "I'm not going to specify which ones I like better than others."
The sweeping immigration bill, which would legalize millions of people in the U.S. unlawfully, suffered a setback when it failed a crucial Senate vote last week.
McConnell's comments came as President Bush pledged to revive the immigration bill.
The legislation would tighten borders and offer employers more temporary workers from abroad in addition to providing lawful status to an estimated 12 million illegal aliens and putting many of them on a path toward citizenship.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)