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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Mel Martinez
October 2, 2003

Mel Martinez
Hi, it is good to be back online and to talk to you about my work for President Bush. Let's start going!

rebecca, from shreveport writes:
HOLA! Did you learn to speak spanish or english first? Do you think hispanic immigrants should adopt the english language or keep their native tongue?

Mel Martinez
I only spoke spanish until age 15 but then I immigrated to the U.S. and made it a point to not only learn English but to learn it well. I still speak my native language and I'm very proud of my heritage but think it is essential to master English.

Janice, from Jackson writes:
Mr. Martinez -- what if I'm not a minority? Is HUD still there to help me purchase a home?

Mel Martinez
Absolultely yes. The President wants to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the American dream of home ownership. Our programs are available to all Americans.

Larry, from New York writes:
Why is there an Hispanic Heritage Month?

Mel Martinez
It is a great opportunity to celebrate and highlight the hispanic culture in our country. While we are all first and foremost Americans we are a country of many ethnic backgrounds and it is always enriching to honor and highlight all of what makes America what it is.

juan, from cali writes:
how does the President feel about hispanics and their role here in America?

Mel Martinez
The President greatly values the contributions that are made to our country from those in the hispanic community. He is very proud of those who have served in the military particularly now in the time of war. He understands our culture and tries to speak our language.

danny, from arizona writes:
can you salsa dance?

Mel Martinez
Of course I can.

Margaret, from Leesburg, VA writes:
what is the status of the American DREAM Downpayment act? has it passed?

Mel Martinez
It passed the House yesterday. It is scheduled for Senate action on October 14 and we look forward to its passage this fall. This is part of the President's plan to help low income families buy their first home by providing down payment assistance.

Matthew, from Los Angeles, CA writes:
Secretary Martinez, What advice would you have for young people interested in someday holding a position like yours?

Mel Martinez
Good question. Stay in school. Work hard. Do well in school. Engage in team sports. I always found it helpful to be involved in team sports. It taught me a lot about leadership and discipline. Listen to your parents. And dream big.

Jorge, from Santa Clara writes:
With the passage of the American Dream Downpayment Act, what will this provide to hispanic citizens? How quickly will this go into effect?

Mel Martinez
It will provide downpayment assistance to moderate income first time home buyers through local housing entities and it will go into effect immediately upon the President signing it into law.

KingBloopZod, from Mars writes:
Hello again Mr. Earthling Secretary Let me first congratulate you on Hispanic Heritage Month. Secondly, the Mars Dream Downpayment Act has made it through the Fleeb Flob (our equivalent of the House), but is stalled in the Zoob (the Senate). Any advice? Also, give my regards to Rafael Palmiero we played together in the Mars Cactus League back in the late 80s.

Mel Martinez
First advice -- be very nice to all the Zoobians and once passed, good luck on implementing the Martian Dream of a home for every one of your creatures. Rafael has a great swing. We both learned it from our Cuban roots. Is there a Martian Heritage Month?

Taylor, from Greensville writes:
How does HUD work with the Faith BAsed office

Mel Martinez
Good question. The President asked us to change our regulations to make it possible for faith-based organizations to partner with the federal government in doing the great work they do. Likewise, the White House faith-based office works closely with all of the departments to ensure that the President's ideas in this area become a reality and that we can unleash the power of our faith communities to do their wonderful work in their communities.

Sharon, from DC writes:
I'm looking to buy a homecondo. What does the market look like right now for home-buying? I'd ask a real estate agent, but I thought you would eb able to give me an unbiased opinion. Much appreciated!! !

Mel Martinez
It is a great time to buy. Interest rates are at record-low numbers and I would encourage you to shop for a good deal but I would also tell you that the sooner you buy the quicker you will be earning equity and building financial stability for your future. However, do know that you should get good local advice as to real estate market conditions in the area where you live.

jeanette, from birmingham , al. writes:
i have just gone through bankruptcy this year, my question is, can i qualify for a government loan or get on a program sponcored by the government so that i can purchase my own home?

Mel Martinez
You should go to a housing education and counseling office so that they can work with you and advise you on how to develop credit worthiness to quality for a loan. You can also find some information on or to get additional information.

Mel Martinez
I'm excited that we have a time where we celebrate our heritage . I'm grateful to the president for inviting such a distinguished group of hispanics to the White House today. I look forward to our hispanic community in America making a contribution making our country even a greater place. And I look forward to doing this again.

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