Ben Carson's comments comparing African slaves who were forced to come to America "in the bottom of slave ships" with new immigrants arriving on U.S. shores were controversial. In his first speech as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Carson's offensive remarks justifiably drew disain by critics, writes Bethania Palma in Snopes. Responding to Carson's clarification that immigration can be voluntary and involuntary, Palma writes that standard English does not classify the forcible abduction and involuntary transport of human beings over borders as a form of migration.
Viewing slavery as a form of immigration is not an uncommon characteristic in academic discussions. While immigration usually has the connotation of being voluntary, there is a shared similarity between slaves and immigrants in that both leave home countries to go to a new land, whether voluntarily or by force, writes Eugene Volokh in The Washington Post. Plus, academically, the concept of immigration has been defined as moving across national frontiers, not just within borders, as well as being connected with alienation and its consequences. Therefore, Ben Carson's remarks were not as controversial as his critics suggest.