Posted: 2:26 pm PT
On May 24, the White House announced the nomination of former FSO Ronald Mortensen to be the Assistant Secretary of State for the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
The WH released a brief bio:
Dr. Mortensen is a retired Foreign Service Officer. For the past 15 years, he has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Dr. Mortensen served at U.S. diplomatic missions in France, Australia, Canada, Gabon, Mauritania and Chad. He has worked on humanitarian responses that saved lives and alleviated the suffering of millions of people in Iraq, Syria, Mali, Libya, Haiti, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many other countries in West Africa. Most recently, Dr. Mortensen served as Disaster Assistance Response Team leader in Iraq. Dr. Mortensen is the recipient of numerous Department of State (State) and USAID awards including the Una Chapman Cox Fellowship. He is a Vietnam era, Air Force veteran. Dr. Mortensen earned two B.S. degrees and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah and an M.A. from the University of Oklahoma. He speaks French.
According to the brief bio released, Mr. Mortensen is a retired Foreign Service Officer who also did work for USAID/OFDA. A source told us he was an FSO from 1977 to 1996. The Una Chapman website confirms that he was one of the two recipients of the Una Chapman Cox Sabbatical Leave Fellowship in 1991. This fellowship is available to Foreign Service employees (Generalists and Specialists), for Grade FS-01 and FS-02 in any career track. There is speculation that he was on the administrative career track given the work that he did for USAID following his retirement from the Foreign Service. Click here for more of that from Jeremy Konyndyk who led USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance from 2013 to 2017.
In September 2017, the State Department’s blog, DipNote reblogged a USAID post highlighting “a few of the amazing humanitarians who are this year’s winners of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal in the category of National Security and International Affairs.” The blogpost includes Mr. Mortensen who it says “served as the DART Leader in Iraq five times over the past two-and-a-half years.” USAID’s original post is here: And the Oscar for Public Service goes to…USAID!
The Utah Standard News where Mr. Mortensen is described as “an earlier supporter and long-time columnist” has a more detailed background and links to the nominee’s position as a “a staunch advocate against illegal immigration.”
The Mortensen nomination was submitted to the Senate on May 24 and is still pending in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as of this writing. We do not expect this administration known for doubling down on controversial issues to withdraw this controversial nomination. Even if this nomination manages to make it through the SFRC, where the split is 11 v. 10, it may end up not going anywhere. The GOP currently has a slim Senate majority at GOP 51 v. 49 (Dems 47, Ind 2); one GOP senator (McCain) has already asked for the withdrawal of this nomination, and a second one (Flake) is on the record for not supporting this nominee. That said, strange things are happening these days, so we can’t really say when a nomination is dead until it is dead. And even then, some nominations will presumably come back as zombies next January if the President renominates them.
Human rights groups describe Ronald Mortensen as an “anti-immigrant zealot” and as “Cruella de Vil.” He’s nominated to oversee the State Department’s refugee resettlement efforts and humanitarian resources.https://t.co/60kNDMbxtC
— POLITICO (@politico) July 25, 2018
— Forrest Hanson (@gumplr) June 4, 2018
Sierra Club Joins Organizations Opposing Ronald Mortensen’s Nomination for Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration https://t.co/f2q2pzSNap
— Sierra Club (@SierraClub) July 5, 2018
On #WorldRefugeeDay, @SenJohnMcCain & I are calling on the Trump admin to withdraw the nomination of Ronald Mortensen to serve as the United States’ senior diplomat for migration and refugee policies. pic.twitter.com/dalYc2NXmA
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) June 20, 2018
The Smear Campaign against Ronald Mortensen https://t.co/PZsafZ1ZVk
— Hans von Spakovsky (@HvonSpakovsky) June 2, 2018
The White House has nominated Ronald Mortensen to a powerful position leading the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Mortensen, from the hardline Center for Immigration Studies, will have big sway over refugee policy if confirmed
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) May 24, 2018
Bio for Dr. Ronald Mortensen just released by the White House makes no mention of his fellowship at the hard-line Center for Immigration Studies, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.
More on him here: https://t.co/iNQEUAxdZw pic.twitter.com/O4I9iyKNKY
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) May 25, 2018
Ronald Mortensen is a DACA-hating, anti-immigrant zealot who cannot fairly manage the US refugee resettlement program. We do not oppose or endorse nominations, but his behavior is deeply concerning and we ask all senators to hold him accountable. https://t.co/gMy0P0H8Cc
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 25, 2018
We strongly urge the Senate to reject the nomination of Ronald Mortensen as assistant secretary of state for #PRM "The decision on this nominee is not a close call," says RI president @EricSchwartzRI: https://t.co/YkD1ylVhwH
— Refugees International (@RefugeesIntl) May 25, 2018
Ronald Mortensen’s nomination to @StatePRM is deeply troubling. His role as a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, an extreme anti-immigrant group founded by a racist who promoted eugenics, & his extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric are disqualifying: https://t.co/g8kBOeVArj
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) May 25, 2018
— Center for Immigration Studies (@CIS_org) May 25, 2018
Ronald Mortenson, Pres. Trump's nominee for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, is a staffer at the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies. Clearly, Mortenson was selected because of his record, not despite it. https://t.co/q8SCpwI0oV
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) May 26, 2018
From @RobertGehrke: In no world would a man like Rob Mortensen — whose views on illegal immigration are in the fringe even in Utah — be entrusted to run a program created to help displaced foreign people settle in this country.
Except in TrumpWorld.https://t.co/HQAOsusQST
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) May 28, 2018
This nominee will not have my support https://t.co/qnPqVCS3tG
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 30, 2018