A President Trump’s cabinet member is striking a tone at odds with the president’s calls to meet immigrants at the Mexico border with force and demands that Congress fund a border wall.
Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development and Trump’s only black cabinet appointee, delivered a speech to conservative state lawmakers reframing the issue.
“We’ve created an amazing country. I mean, where else in the world do you see caravans of people trying to get into the country? Sometimes we should maybe look at the positive aspect of some of the things going on,” Carson said, according to a video of his speech.
Trump has repeatedly attacked migrant caravans seeking to cross the US border, often saying they include criminals and violent gang members. He even suggested that they included “unknown Middle Easterners”, probably in an attempt to make a link to security concerns about terrorism. He also has controversially deployed thousands of US soldiers to the border with Mexico, in a move critics have lambasted as expensive and unnecessary.
Carson was speaking at the opening lunch of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which drafts legislation for Republican state lawmakers to pursue.
“One of the things we need to understand in this country is we’re not each other’s enemies and we need to stop allowing people to divide us up and make us think we’re enemies,” he said.
Carson added: “When we start doing things for people, we need to do things for all of our people. It shouldn’t be some identity group du jour. Every day it should be about everybody and what impacts everybody because we have a diverse society and we can’t allow ourselves to be divided amongst identity groups.”
He followed Mick Mulvaney, the office of management and budget director at the White House, who drew a stark contrast with a pointed defense of Trump’s record and conservatism.
“The conservative ideas are winning, which is all we’ve ever asked for, right? [It’s] the chance to prove that our ideas, our thoughts about how you should govern yourself are superior to the folks who are offering something else,” Mulvaney said.
Highlighting Trump’s tax cuts, deregulation and economic growth, Mulvaney said: “the proof is in the pudding, much to the chagrin of the folks who are not here today. I always laugh when I start to think about some of the things that the left said about our policies before we started to put them in place.”
Alec members are voting this week on conservative resolutions to take back to their legislatures to consider. For example, the energy taskforce is will vote on expressing support for Trump energy and environment policies, as agencies have sought to expand fossil fuel use and cut public health standards. Another resolution would oppose tax rebates for electric vehicles.