The presence of Salma Hayek lit up the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual awards gala in Washington, where the Mexican actress and producer received the Medallion of Excellence in the Arts and Entertainment.

Hayek, who lives in Paris with husband François-Henri Pinault and their daughter, 6-year-old Valentina, was accompanied to the event by her father and brother.

In her acceptance speech, Hayek dedicated the award to immigrants who have "risked their lives in order to search for a brighter future" and to undocumented migrants brought to the United States as children - known as "Dreamers" - who she described as "the true inspiration for all of us."

The CHCI also bestowed awards on U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute founder Juan Andrade Jr. and on Francisco Cigarroa, the first Latino to head the University of Texas system.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had planned to attend the gala, but cancelled due to the government shutdown.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Congress, including Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were among the more than 2,000 people on hand for the event at the Washington Convention Center. EFE