President Joe Biden pushed his legislation supporting a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants during a Cinco de Mayo reception on Thursday at the White House.
First lady Jill Biden gave the first speech at the Rose Garden event, which featured Mexico's first lady, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, and several cabinet members, including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
As guests sipped on margaritas and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, Biden touted his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan before turning to speak about how his administration is "working to fix our immigration system as well."
He stressed that America can "secure our borders and keep lit the torch of liberty."
Biden referenced his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which he sent to Congress more than a year ago. The bill bounced around several committees before being referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, where it has sat since April 2021.
"On my first day in office, I sent an immigration bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants contributing to our economy," he told the crowd.
"We are an immigrant nation. ... That is our strength," he said, according to the official White House transcript. "But if Congress won’t act on broader reform, let’s pass the bills that have bipartisan support – for DREAMers and those Temporary Protected Status farm workers, essential workers."
Biden's comments come as record numbers of illegal migrants are crossing into the United States. Border Patrol agents encountered more than 221,000 migrants at the southern border in March, the highest number seen under Biden so far.
Nicholas Ballasy contributed to this report