Carson defends HUD eviction plan: 'It's the law'

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson's affordable housing idea drawing undue flak Overnight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules it says are too lax MORE defended his agency’s plan to evict thousands of immigrant families from federally subsidized housing.

Carson justified the plan to The Hill's Editor in Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackHill Editor-in-Chief: Why moderate governors are fizzling Hill Editor-in-Chief: Do we now have a top three in the Democratic primary? The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE on Wednesday, stating that it is "the law."

“The HUD Secretary is prohibited from providing housing assistance to people who are in the country illegally. It further states that if it is discovered that the home owner or the apartment leasee is harboring people who are illegal, the HUD secretary has a duty to remove them,” Carson said, referencing the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980.

“So if they don’t like that, it’s the law, they need to change that," he added.

Carson's comments came days after the HUD secretary faced a grilling during a heated congressional hearing over the agency's policies. Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee blasted Carson for the proposal, which they called inhumane and ineffective.

HUD announced in April that it would tighten regulations barring undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing benefits. Families with at least one member eligible for HUD programs are currently allowed to live in federally subsidized housing, but Carson’s proposal would evict all households led by undocumented immigrants. 

Carson told Cusack that HUD made a provision to allow immigrants a deferral, claiming the provision offered "enough time for them to actually do something."

"But here’s what I find fascinating. They’re talking about evicting children. We’ve made a provision that people can get a six-month deferral on action and that can be renewed twice," Carson said. "That’s 18 months. That’s enough time for them to actually do something.”

The agency estimates that 32,000 federally subsidized households and 55,000 children would impacted by HUD's proposal. That could force thousands of U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, along with legal permanent residents, refugees, and asylum-seekers, into homelessness.

Carson, a staunch conservative who ran for president in 2016, told The Hill he found Democrats’ criticism hypocritical, comparing their stances on the eviction policy to their policies on abortion. 

“I just find it a little hypocritical when people try to throw up to you, ‘oh, you’re being cruel to children,’ and they’re the same people who don’t mind killing babies right up until the time they’re born,” he said.

—Tal Axelrod