Ben Carson is facing backlash after referring to slaves as immigrants in his first staff address as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

By Char Adams
March 07, 2017 12:28 PM
Susan Walsh/AP

Ben Carson is in hot water yet again after he referred to slaves as immigrants during his first address to employees as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

The retired neurosurgeon, who was confirmed to lead the department last week, spoke highly of immigrants in his first remarks to staff on Monday, praising their work ethic before making the startling comparison.

“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less, but they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land,” the 65-year-old said.

Many took notice of the politician’s comments, with social media users taking to Twitter.

Samuel L. Jackson posted an expletive-laden message to Twitter, writing in part, “OK!! Ben Carson …. I can’t! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!!”

“Ben Carson..please read or watch Roots, most immigrants come here VOLUNTARILY, can’t really say the same about the slaves..they were stolen,” Whoopi Goldberg tweeted.

Carson later took to Facebook to clarify his statements, although he did not offer an apology.

“The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences,” he wrote. “Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders.”

He expanded on his comments later on SiriusXM’s Armstrong Williams Show.

“I think people need to actually look up the word immigrant,” he said. “Whether you’re voluntary or involuntary, if you come from outside to the inside, you’re an immigrant … slaves came here as involuntary immigrants. But they still had the strength to hold on.”

This is not the first time Carson has made a shocking comparison to America’s shameful and inhumane history of slavery.

In 2013, Carson said that the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) was the worst thing “since slavery,” according to CNN.