Trump Nominates Hate Group Activist to Head Refugee Policy

Photo/Public Domain/U.S. Navy

Earlier this month, Donald Trump nominated Ronald Mortensen of Utah, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, the nation’s primary office for refugee policy.

Mortensen has long been associated with the radical anti-immigrant movement and is a “fellow” of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a think tank for immigrant haters. In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) placed CIS on its list of anti-immigrant hate groups. The SPLC lists CIS as a hate group because of “its repeated circulation of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers.”

In eight years of writing for CIS, Mortensen has repeatedly attacked refugees, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and anyone with centrist views on immigration. For example, his article on churches advocating for immigration reform is entitled “Religious Leaders Love Their Neighbors – as Long as They Are Illegal Aliens.”

Mortensen likes to spread alarmist disinformation, claiming, for example that 75 percent of undocumented immigrants are felons. He advocates radical ideas like deporting the U.S.-born children of immigrants, even though those children are U.S. citizens under the 14th Amendment. During the presidential campaign, he supported Trump’s call for building the border wall, writing that the “key to the entire Trump plan is the construction of an impenetrable wall… Given Trump’s warrior personality and his proven ability to make deals, it is highly likely that Mexico will pay for the wall one way or the other…”

Mortensen particularly targets leaders who most Americans consider moderates or even conservatives for any sympathy they show towards immigrants. So, for example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Evangelical pastors are frequent objects of his anger, as well as John McCain. In one article, he wrote that “McCain rolls out the welcome mat for ISIS.” Evangelicals who advocate humane immigration policies are described by Mortensen as “Ravenous Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.”

“Illegal Aliens Receive Immediate Medical Care; Veterans Left to Die” is another article by Mortensen. It claims that veterans are dying from lack of medical care because of undocumented immigrants.

The SPLC warns that Mortensen’s “nomination, once again, shows that extremist groups have a direct line to federal power in the Trump administration.” Sadly, being involved in the white nationalist fringe is not a disqualifier for a high post in the Trump administration.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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