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Ben Carson refers to slaves as immigrants on his first day as Housing secretary

Ben Carson opened his tenure as secretary of Housing and Urban Development with remarks to agency staff about American idealism that drew unwanted attention when Carson equated slaves to immigrants.

"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.”

It's not the first time that Carson, who was confirmed last week, has discussed slavery in the political sphere. In 2013, he called Obamacare "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery."

In 2015, President Barack Obama made similar comments at a naturalization ceremony.

"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," he said.

Obama's remarks gained renewed attention Tuesday night when "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah discussed them after conservative news outlets had reported earlier in the day.

Updated on March 8 at 11:20 a.m.: This post has been updated with information about Obama's remarks.

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