Ronald Mortensen

Nominated in the 115th and the 116th Congress to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of PRM, Department of State, CIS Fellow, Co-founder Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration

A Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) fellow and Utah resident with a long history of railing against refugees, immigrants, elected officials, and religious institutions, Ronald Mortensen has advocated for measures designed to restrict as much immigration as possible. Mortensen was nominated by the Trump Administration to be the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in 2018. In January 2019 Mortensen’s nomination was re-sent to the Senate for consideration.

  • In addition to serving as a Fellow for CIS, Mortensen has written for the organization since at least 2009 and has worked alongside other CIS colleagues including Mark Krikorian, Jessica Vaughan, Steven Camarota, John Miano, and Jon Feere.
  • He co-founded the anti-immigrant Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, and has used his platform to malign immigrants, elected officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties and church communities including the LDS church, who do not agree with his harsh policy proposals.
  • After failing in the 115th Congress, Mortensen’s nomination was again sent by the Trump Administration to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 116th Congress. In July 2019, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Mortensen’s nomination appears to be going nowhere. Suzanne Wrasse, spokeswoman for the Committee’s Chairman Sen. John Risch stated: “There are no plans for Mortensen to have a hearing at this time.”
  • Mortensen’s employer CIS is an anti-immigrant policy center founded by white nationalist John Tanton that advocates reducing legal immigration as much as possible. The group regularly circulates white nationalist content including posts from extremist website VDARE, and in the last decade has done so more than 2,000 times. VDARE was founded by English white nationalist Peter Brimelow.
  • CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian has defended the organization’s circulation of content from VDARE by comparing it to The New York Times: “Some of what VDare publishes is sensible, some of it is not, and some of it is downright scurrilous. Kind of like the New York Times.”
  • Mortensen’s nomination has generated broad opposition, including Utah conservatives.
    • In an op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune entitled Utah’s senators should vote no on Ron Mortensen, Utah state Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, former Army Brig. Gen. David Irvine and Paul Mero, president of the Next Generation Freedom Fund, strongly argued that Sens. Lee and Romney should oppose Mortensen. The gentlemen wrote: “The policies for which Mortensen and his colleagues have long advocated reflect the worst and darkest impulses of our nation, and we urge conservatives of good conscience to oppose his nomination and stand instead for our country’s proud tradition – and Christ’s call — of welcoming the stranger.”
    • U.S. Congressman John Curtis stated, “there is no way this congressman will ever vote for a racist to fill that position.”
    • Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert let the White House know that his office could not support his nomination in large part because of his hostility toward the principles of the Utah Compact.
    • The Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce called “upon the Trump Administration to withdraw its nomination of Ronald Mortensen and upon Utah’s congressional delegation to actively oppose it, and encourage them to work together to find a candidate who reflects core Utah values.”
  • In response to Mortensen’s nomination, seventy-five  national security experts penned a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April of 2019 expressing their concerns. The letter notes, “Mr. Mortensen’s past writings on migration issues are alarming. Mr. Mortensen’s body of work concentrates on attacking immigrants…”
    • In April of 2019, nearly fifty Members of Congress—led by Rep’s Frankel, Torres, Roybal-Allard and Lofgren wrote a letter to Secretary Pompeo, urging the Trump Administration to withdraw the nomination.
  • Mortensen has criticized the Mormon church and other religious leaders for invoking “love of neighbor” to support undocumented immigrants: “…their love of neighbor appears to largely exclude American citizens, including American children, who are victimized by illegal aliens… In addition, America’s religious leaders have a double standard for American citizens and illegal aliens.”
  • Mortensen claimed religious leaders put undocumented immigrants ahead of “the rule of law.” According to Mortensen, “Religious leaders actively court illegal aliens…These spiritual leaders put the interests of illegal aliens ahead of the rule of law and the American men, women, and innocent children who are the victims of their crimes. This is not only corrupt; it is cruel…”
  • Mortensen attacked late Sen. John McCain over his support for comprehensive immigration reform, and claimed the ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill would welcome ISIS into the U.S.: “What is certain is that McCain has provided ISIS with unfettered access to the United States for both its personnel and their weapons of death and destruction. Should ISIS or some other terrorist group take advantage of McCain’s welcome mat, he will only have himself to blame as he goes in the eyes of many from war hero to collaborator.”
  • In March 2015, the CIS fellow attacked Sen. Rubio, “Marco Rubio just can’t seem to stay away from gangs, or to tell the truth about gang-sponsored legislation…Either Rubio is exceptionally gullible or just plain dishonest. In either case, he has once again demonstrated that he is not qualified to be president of the United States.”
  • Mortensen has spent decades maligning immigrants and communities which support them, and has supported CIS’s goal to make life as difficult as possible for immigrants living in the U.S.
  • The CIS fellow advocated for a DACA repeal, saying Dreamers destroyed lives of American children and has called for a “DACA Victims’ Restitution Fund,” claiming DACA recipients committed identity theft. According to The Hill, Mortensen said,  “(DACA) rewards illegal aliens (the so-called “Dreamers”) for destroying the futures of innocent American children. It should be repealed.”
  • Mortensen referred to providing Dreamers with work authorization as “Elite-driven child abuse,” in a policy blog for CIS: “While the elites are busy getting what they want, the parents of the American children whose futures are systematically being destroyed are busy trying to make a living in the economy that the elites have handed them. Many don’t have time to protect their children from this elite-driven child abuse.”
  • In 2017, Mortensen wrote a piece in The Hill titled with a falsehood, “Most illegal aliens routinely commit felonies.” In it he states bluntly, “The myth of the law abiding illegal alien is just that: a myth.”