MEXICO CITY (AP) — The chances that the U.S. Congress will
overhaul immigration rules have increased with the end of the
political season and the improvement of security along the
U.S.-Mexican border, Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday
in Mexico.

But Powell cautioned that approval of the first major
immigration changes in 18 years would depend on the new Congress
that will take office in January.

“We don’t want to overpromise,” Powell told a
news conference during discussions here on a broad range of
cross-border issues. Joining Powell for his 20-hour stay in Mexico
were five fellow Cabinet secretaries.

Powell met with Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has made
migration reform in the United States a top foreign policy
priority. Fox says the millions of Mexicans who work in the United
States should have legal status there so they can live without fear
of arrest and deportation.

During his discussions, Powell said he reaffirmed President
Bush’s “plan to work with our new Congress to develop a
temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with
willing U.S. employers.”

The comments suggested the Bush administration was giving
priority to the provision in Bush’s proposal that would give
workers who still live in their home countries permission to work
in the United States if they have a job offer.

A more controversial provision — which Powell did not
mention — would allow undocumented aliens already in the
United States to achieve legal status if they can prove they have
employment. Beneficiaries could stay in the United States for three
years, then be permitted to remain longer if certain conditions are
met.

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