WATCH: Ben Carson Refers to Slaves as Immigrants During Speech

In one of his first speeches as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson made questionable comments about slaves and what their hopes and dreams were when they came to America on slave ships. Watch the video of the excerpt above.

During the speech to HUD employees March 6, Carson referred to slaves as “immigrants” and to America as a “land of dreams an opportunity.” He continued that “there were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

The comments sparked outrage by some on social media. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect condemned Carson’s statement saying that “slaves didn’t immigrate to America, they were brought here violently, against their will, and lived here without freedom.”

Carson defended his comments in a Facebook post later in the day:

During his time on the stage, Carson, a neurosurgeon, also spoke about what it was like to perform surgery on various patients. He joked to the HUD employees that he prefers operating on younger people compared to older ones because of their potential lifespan.

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Carson assumed the vice chairman role on President Donald Trump’s transition team shortly after the election in November 2016. He was offered a spot in Trump’s cabinet, but declined and later accepted the role of secretary for HUD. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 2 in a 58-41 vote.