News & Politics

Trump Nominee for Refugee Agency Made Anti-Immigrant Comments and Has Ties to Hate Group: Report

Ronald Mortensen objected to DACA and tried to draw a connection between Dreamers and criminals.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp/Released

Ronald Mortensen, President Donald Trump's pick to lead an office of the State Department overseeing refugees, has alarmed many Democratic lawmakers and activists for his connections to a hate group and a history of anti-immigrant comments, Politico reported on Friday.

Mortensen has worked with the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that works to restrict immigration and has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC notes that the group has a pattern of promoting white supremacist writers, has defended colonialism, and has promoted of racist ideas.

Politico points to one particularly troubling statement made by Mortensen in reference to Dreamers, who are undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. Mortensen was concerned that Dreamers couldn't be eligible for deportation unless they were found guilty of a crime.

“This means that Dreamer gang-bangers, Dreamer identity thieves, Dreamer sexual predators, Dreamers who haven't paid income taxes, and Dreamers committing a wide range of other crimes all qualify for DACA status as long as they haven't been convicted of their crimes,” he wrote. Of course, no one can or should be punished for a crime they haven't been found guilty of, and studies repeatedly show that immigrants have lower rates of crime than the rest of the population.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said Mortensen "is simply unsuited to head a bureau whose charge it is to provide protection to refugees around the world escaping persecution.”

The White House lauded Mortensen by pointing to his history of award-winning work in humanitarianism in a statement, but it did not address his troubling history with anti-immigrant ideas.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.