Press Releases

Washington, D.C. ­– Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20th, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) urged the Trump administration to withdraw the nomination of Ronald Mortensen, a vocal opponent of immigration, to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the senators cited Mortensen’s well-documented anti-immigrant views and urged the administration to nominate an individual who will uphold the United States’ legacy of promoting the human rights of displaced people.

“While we appreciate your efforts to address the Department’s staffing needs and look forward to confirming a qualified nominee for this important position, we are deeply concerned about the possibility of a virulent opponent of immigration serving as the United States’ senior diplomat for migration and refugee policies,” wrote Senators McCain and Coons. “As a fellow for the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, Mr. Mortensen has spread misinformation about immigrants and displayed a lack of empathy for innocent men, women, and children fleeing violence and oppression.

“At a time when more than 65 million people are displaced worldwide, the nomination of Mr. Mortensen for this position sends a chilling message to all those around the world who look to the United States as a beacon of hope and security for persecuted peoples.”

The letter is below and here.

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June 19, 2018

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary

U.S. Department of State

2201 C St NW

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write to express our strong opposition to President Trump’s recent nomination of Ronald Mortensen to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.  While we appreciate your efforts to address the Department’s staffing needs and look forward to confirming a qualified nominee for this important position, we are deeply concerned about the possibility of a virulent opponent of immigration serving as the United States’ senior diplomat for migration and refugee policies.

As a fellow for the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, Mr. Mortensen has spread misinformation about immigrants and displayed a lack of empathy for innocent men, women, and children fleeing violence and oppression.  For example, Mr. Mortensen attacked American religious leaders for sheltering and assisting immigrants, accusing them of “turning their back on Americans” and focusing on “illegal aliens because they are willing to join their churches”[1].  He also referred to providing work authorizations for Dreamers as “elite-driven child abuse”[2].  This rhetoric is both unfitting for a potential diplomat and antithetical to America’s long history of welcoming immigrants.

The Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration oversees the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and U.S. assistance for refugees, victims of conflict, and stateless people abroad.  At a time when more than 65 million people are displaced worldwide, the nomination of Mr. Mortensen for this position sends a chilling message to all those around the world who look to the United States as a beacon of hope and security for persecuted peoples.

We encourage the administration to withdraw Mr. Mortensen’s nomination to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration and to work with President Trump to nominate a qualified individual who is committed to the United States’ legacy of promoting the human rights of displaced people.  We look forward to working with you in advancing this goal. 

Sincerely,

John McCain

United States Senator  

Christopher A. Coons          

United States Senator                                                                                                

[1] https://cis.org/Mortensen/Religious-Leaders-Love-Their-Neighbors-Long-They-Are-Illegal-Aliens

[2] https://cis.org/Mortensen/Obama-Administrations-DREAM-Decree-Compassion-or-Child-Abuse

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