Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson caused a stir Monday when he referred to slaves as “immigrants” — but he wasn’t the first person to do that.
In December 2015, then-President Obama made similar comments during a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives.
The president did not specifically say “slaves” during his speech, but instead mentioned “those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily” who “in their own way were immigrants themselves.”
The full quote, per the Obama administration’s archives:
“And perhaps, like some of you, these new arrivals might have had some moments of doubt, wondering if they had made a mistake in leaving everything and everyone they ever knew behind. So life in America was not always easy. It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”
Source: USA Today | Jessica Estepa