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Trump Nominates Utah Immigration Hardliner For Top State Department Job

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President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated an anti-illegal immigration activist from Utah for a top job in the State Department.

Ronald Mortensen is a former Foreign Service officer with the State Department. He’s also a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an anti-immigrant hate group.

Mortensen is nominated to be an assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. The position oversees aid for refugees and international victims of conflict.

Mortensen is a Trump supporter from Bountiful and has penned editorials in support of a border wall. He has also criticized Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that protects young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who are living in the country illegally.

“DACA exempts illegal aliens from crimes that American citizens would be jailed for,” Mortensen wrote in a CIS editorial last fall. “Even worse, it leaves Americans holding the bag for the harm inflicted on them by DACA recipients.”

The assistant secretary of state position is subject to Senate confirmation. A spokesman for Senator Mike Lee said that Lee has met with Mortensen and the senator is impressed with his qualifications.

A statement from Sen. Hatch’s office was less clear.

“Senator Hatch has worked well with this particular office in the State Department for decades, as hundreds of immigrant and refugee families in Utah can attest, and will work to ensure the office continues to serve Utah values well," Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said. "Those values include a strong focus on ensuring families can stay together within the framework of the law.”

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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