Mexican President Vicente Fox has welcomed the U.S. Senate's vote on immigration policy as a "monumental step" in improving the lives of millions of Mexicans who live and work in the United States.
But Mr. Fox acknowledged there is more debate ahead on the issue, and that Mexico must grow economically so large numbers of its citizens are not forced to leave their country. The Mexican president made his remarks Thursday in an address to the California legislature in Sacramento.
The comments follow the U.S. Senate's 62 - 36 vote approving sweeping immigration reform that includes tighter border security and a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally.
The Mexican leader's trip to California caps a three-state U.S. visit that took him first to Utah and then to the state of Washington.
Mr. Fox was scheduled to meet privately Thursday with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said he is prepared to commit California National Guard troops in support of border patrol operations. But the governor says deployment has to be on a temporary basis.
President Fox's itinerary includes a meeting in Los Angeles with the city's Mexican-American mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.