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Ben Carson Just Referred To Slaves As "Immigrants" Who Worked "Harder For Less"

"There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less," the newly confirmed housing and urban development secretary said Monday.

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Ben Carson, the newly confirmed secretary of housing and urban development (HUD), referred to slaves as "immigrants" during a speech Monday.

Carson was speaking to HUD employees in Washington, DC, when he said, "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, 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," Carson added.

Ben Carson just referred to *slaves* as "immigrants" "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of s… https://t.co/5s4mIGl6Ic

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who sought the Republican presidential nomination before throwing his support behind President Trump, was confirmed as housing and urban development secretary last week.

Carson's comments about slavery quickly prompted criticism, including a tweet from the NAACP.

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Immigrants??? https://t.co/f0RH7iXBrn

WE CONDEMN REMARKS of #BenCarson today that slaves are "immigrants." @WhiteHouse we say #BlackLivesMatter and so s… https://t.co/Cn4DORyZ3M

Immigrants, eh? I think they were enslaved, @RealBenCarson.

By Monday afternoon, Carson was a top trending topic on Twitter in the US, with many expressing incredulity and anger over his remark.

@SteveKopack Ben Carson has lost whatever was left of his mind and his integrity. He should be ashamed of himself f… https://t.co/kcNueSLNPH

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The cuss (yes cuss!) words going thru my head right now while thinking about Ben Carson equating enslaved Africans w immigrants...

Ben Carson repeating that lie that slaves were immigrants. Y’all keep letting that man speak.

Ben Carson is literally the most daft person ever. Saying slaves were immigrants.. I literally have no words.

Later Monday, Carson tweeted that "you can be an involuntary immigrant," and said that an immigrant is "a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country."

However, he appeared to walk that sentiment back hours later when he posted a statement to Facebook saying the "the slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences."

"Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders," Carson said in the statement. "The Immigrants made the choice to come to America."

He went on to say that "the two experiences should never be intertwined, nor forgotten."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development did not comment on the controversy Monday.


Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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