WASHINGTON — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson faced criticism for appearing to liken slaves to immigrants during one of his first addresses to his new employees on Monday.
Carson began with a riff in which he encouraged HUD employees to "be nice" to one another as they met in elevators or hallways. He then suggested that if they felt like "being mean," they should visit Ellis Island and look at the pictures of immigrants who gave up their lives to pursue the American dream.
"There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less," Carson said. "But they, too, had a dream, that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prospertiy and happiness in this land."
Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, was sworn in as HUD secretary last week following a relatively smooth Senate confirmation. He has often come under fire for past comparisons during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination last year, such as likening the Affordable Care Act to slavery.