White House hosts Cinco de Mayo reception
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a brief speech peppered with Spanish phrases, President George Bush praised relations between Mexico and the United States at a White House reception commemorating Cinco de Mayo.
The president also said he is asking Congress to extend legislation that eases problems for some immigrants.
Calling the White House a "casa para todos" -- a house for all -- Bush welcomed guests who included musician and producer Emilio Estefan and Ana Maria Conseco, host of the Univision program "Despierta America."
Cinco de Mayo marks an 1862 victory by Mexican forces against French troops that were better armed and three times as numerous. The troops had been sent by Napoleon to conquer Mexico.
Bush recalled Mexican President Vicente Fox's visit to Washington just before September 11, saying he told Fox at that time, "the United States has no more important relationship in the world than with Mexico." Drawing strong applause, Bush said, "I meant it then, and I mean it now."
"By their strong values and determination to create a better life for themselves and their children, immigrants from Mexico enrich American life," Bush said, drawing more applause.
The president said he has asked Congress to extend Section 2451 of U.S. Immigration law. The measure, enacted by President Bill Clinton in December 2001, allows some immigrants extra time to adjust their status while remaining in the United States. Bush said the extension would allow families to stay together while they work toward becoming permanent residents.
Bush called Fox "a great Mexican patriot, a man of honest talk and convictions, who is passionately concerned for his people's welfare." He said the two countries are working together to create "a smart border, one that will speed the safe flow of people and commerce but protect our two nations from terrorism and crime."
The two countries "will succeed together, because our futures are bound to each other," Bush said. "Geography made us neighbors, but our shared values and rich cultures have made us the closest of friends."
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