RI Urges the Senate to Reject Robert Mortensen’s Nomination to PRM

Refugees International today called upon the Senate to reject the nomination of Ronald Mortensen as assistant secretary of state for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). The nomination was announced yesterday by the White House.

Eric Schwartz, President of Refugees International, said:

We appreciate that this announcement was made only yesterday and that the Senate needs to exercise due diligence in consideration of this nomination.

But the decision on this nominee is not a close call.

While the nominee does not appear to have much of a public written record on refugee issues as such, he has written extensively on migration matters, and his writings demonstrate an absence of empathy and compassion essential for a position of leadership on refugee issues; an inclination to mischaracterize the positions of those who do not share his views and to vilify his opponents; and a willingness to use language that is both divisive and disconcerting in our increasingly diverse society..

  • In a 2014 piece entitled “McCain Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for ISIS on America’s Southern Border,” Mortensen condemned Sen. John McCain’s position on immigration reform legislation and accused the Senator of having “provided ISIS with unfettered access to the United States.”  (September 2, 2014)
  • In 2015, Mortensen accused Sen. Marco Rubio of deception in his promotion of immigration reform legislation, stating that the Senator was “exceptionally gullible or just plain dishonest.” (March 6, 2015)
  • In 2014, in an essay directed at Evangelical groups that supported immigration reform and was entitled “Evangelical Immigration Table – Purveyor of Principles or Ravenous Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” Mortensen noted that the groups “are disingenuous at best and evil at worst because they attempt to deceive and to hide what appears to be the evangelicals’ real goal of granting each and every illegal alien in the United States legal status regardless of family status or crimes committed against innocent American children.” (January 31, 2014)
  • In a 2013 piece on the support by the Mormon Church of immigration reform, Mortensen wrote that statements by Church officials “raise questions about whether Mormon leaders are exceptionally naive or simply mean-spirited and cruel.” (“Mormon Church Support for Immigration Reform – Naive or Mean Spirited?” on March 22, 2013)

These are only a few of many such writings, which we hope the Senate will review very carefully. We also hope Senators will encourage the Trump Administration to withdraw this candidate and nominate an individual whose perspectives are more consistent with the noble mission of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.