Democratic House lawmakers expressed outrage at a proposed plan by Housing and Urban Development to prohibit families led by illegal immigrants from living in federally subsidized homes, according to The Hill.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, and was made to respond to fierce criticism of a plan the department estimates could result in 32,000 households being subject to eviction.
"It's not that we're cruel, mean-hearted," Carson told the committee. "It's that we are logical. This is common sense. You take care of your own first."
Currently, families that include both legal residents/U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants are eligible to live in federal housing. HUD is proposing tightening up that rule so that only families that are fully legal can take advantage of the housing aid.
The likely result is thousands of families with one or more illegal parent who have legal children will be forced to move out of federal housing.
"The 'D' in HUD does not stand for 'deportation,'" said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), even though deportation has nothing to do with HUD's plan.
Carson defended his department's plan by pointing out that there are millions of American citizens on federal housing waiting lists.
"It seems only logical that tax-paying American citizens should be taken care of first," Carson said, after using the analogy of airplane passengers putting on their own oxygen mask before trying to help someone else put theirs on.
Carson's Republican allies on the committee came to his defense, resulting in some testy exchanges during the hearing. Carson, in the end, maintained that the proposal was intended to align HUD more closely with federal law.
"If someone here can tell me how to follow the law and still take care of their issue, I'll hear it," Carson said.