Trump nominates Ronald Mortensen to head State Department refugee program

Who is Ronald Mortensen?
I had never heard of him, but CNN and other outlets call him an immigration hardliner, a “fellow” at the Center for Immigration Studies.

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Clearly a Trump supporter in Romney country, Mortensen said in August of 2016 that Trump is our only hope against corrupt elites.

Doing a quick scan of the Utah native’s writing at CIS, we see that he has mostly written about DACA and illegal alien issues, so his experience with the refugee program is apparently limited.
The most recent op-ed I found from him is from 6 months ago at The Hill about how to structure an amnesty for the DACA ‘children’ entitled:

Want to pass the DREAM Act? Let’s combine mercy with justice

As a retired Foreign Service officer, he surely has a good feel for the countries and cultures that feed in to the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program, and if approved by the Senate (a very long shot!), he might be able to find some experienced people to surround himself with who know where the problems are with the USRAP.

Here is one story from Deseret News:

Trump nominates Utahn to be an assistant secretary of state


SALT LAKE CITY — Utahn Ronald Mortensen was nominated by President Donald Trump Thursday to serve as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration.

If his nomination is approved by the U.S. Senate, Mortensen, a retired Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department, would head the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

The bureau’s mission “is to provide protection, ease suffering, and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world on behalf of the American people,” according to its website.

Mortensen has lobbied the Utah Legislature on identity theft and other issues and supported Trump in 2016. He is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan organization that bills itself as “low immigration, pro-immigrant.”

He has been described as continuing to respond to humanitarian crises around the world, including in Mali and Iraq after being recognized by the State Department for his courage during a civil war in Chad.

Mortensen, a veteran who holds a doctorate degree, was on the White House advance team for the 1986 summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Iceland that helped lead to an end to the Cold War.

As time goes on, we will hear more about Mortensen.  You can be sure that the Refugee Council USA (the lobbying arm of the refugee industry) will soon weigh in.  (I haven’t seen anything from them yet.)
Readers may not know that the last Republican (under GW Bush) to hold this position, Ellen Sauerbrey, only got it through a recess appointment. Trump may have to go that route if he wants to fight for Mortensen.
And, then of course, if he is confirmed, the big question will be: Is he the man to push serious reform of the entire program, or simply a place holder?
At present, the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration is headed by a Stephen Miller acolyte, Andrew Veprek, as deputy assistant secretary—an assignment that has the refugee industry in high dudgeon. 
Get out the popcorn, this should be a good show!

Join the Conversation


  1. Stopping the invasion of the USA…..indeed, reversing it……would be a DIRTY JOB….done only by hardnose people …Trump seems reluctant to pick-up that shovel or even hire the kind of people that would do that job…….. Ditto………..on Draining the Swamp…. 300 million Americans and Trump keeps appointing Swamp Criters……

  2. Why not Ann Corcoran? Supremely qualified, creative, experienced, self-starter, widely followed and respected. I have followed and admired her for more than seven years, her work ethic is unbelievable, but I have the feeling that she would never submit herself to the expectations of the Trump Administration.
    Her workload is prodigious, so it isn’t as if she can’t perform superbly, it may be just a matter of wanting to “do her own thing”.
    I thought that Phillip Haney would be great for the Trump Administration, but my many attempts to work with him have never received the slightest word of response, no encouragement whatsoever. I personally met him at a presentation in Fort Worth and was impressed with his scope. He promised to work with me, but that was the last response to many attempts to help him spread his word. Something is missing, his timidity needs help, something or someone is keeping him from becoming the force that we need.

    1. Thanks for your kind words of support, but remember that the Asst. Secretary position requires Senate approval and I doubt that anyone Trump chooses will have a chance . The program can keep limping along under its deputy assistant as far as I am concerned.

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