Trump taps vocal anti-illegal immigration advocate for State Dept's top refugee job

Trump taps vocal anti-illegal immigration advocate for State Dept's top refugee job
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE has tapped a fierce critic of illegal immigration for the State Department's top position overseeing refugees and migration.

The White House announced on Thursday that Ronald Mortensen, a former foreign service officer, has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.

Mortensen, who supported Trump on the campaign trail, is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit group that advocates for significantly reducing immigration to the U.S.

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If confirmed by the Senate, Mortensen would lead the State Department bureau responsible for providing assistance to some of the world's most vulnerable populations, including refugees and asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America. 

In addition to his fellowship at the Center for Immigration Studies, Mortensen also founded the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, a group that advocates for "concrete action" to address illegal immigration. 

In a statement issued at the time of the group's founding, Mortensen said the U.S. had a responsibility to admit immigrants who go through the proper legal channels, while blocking those who try to skirt the law. 

"There are literally millions of desperate people in countries around the world who respect the rule-of-law and wait for years to legally enter the United States," he said. "We should have compassion for these good, honest, hard-working people and make sure that we don’t reward individuals who jump the line."

In an email on Friday, the White House said Mortensen has worked in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for the past 15 years, and “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.”

He also served as the head of USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response team in Iraq five times since 2015.

Mortensen is an Air Force veteran, and holds a Ph.D from the University of Utah, according to the White House.

Mortensen has also written dozens of op-eds for publications, including The Hill, decrying illegal immigration and claiming that most undocumented immigrants commit crimes by using fraudulent documents in the U.S.

He also vehemently opposed former President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which temporarily shielded certain young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally from deportation and gave them permission to work in the U.S. Trump rescinded that program in September.

In an October 2017 blog post, Mortensen demanded that DACA recipients be forced to disclose Social Security numbers they may have used prior to the program's implementation in 2012.

"Furthermore, DACA recipients must be required to make restitution to the owners of those Social Security numbers as a condition of adjusting their immigration status and in return for amnesty from identity theft and other job-related felonies," he wrote at the time.

--Updated at 2:22 p.m. on May 25.