Letters to the Editor

Refugee bureau pick a poor choice

The nomination of Ronald Mortensen to lead the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration is a shameful effort to turn back our nation’s long-standing tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants fleeing violence and persecution. To place someone with such anti-immigrant views in charge of this State Department bureau would undermine our role as a global leader on one of the most important humanitarian issues of our time.

After being forced to leave Iraq because my husband was serving U.S. troops, I came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2010 and found myself welcome among my neighbors in Jacksonville. For Thanksgiving last year, my neighbors invited me to share in their celebration, followed by Christmas and, most recently, we sat together to break bread during Ramadan. It has been easy to fall in love with my community as I’ve practiced what Islam has taught me about being a responsible citizen and a good neighbor.

As a fellow at the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mortensen has labeled immigrants as criminals, stoking hatred against people like me and my family, convincing others to immediately treat me as a threat.

The Trump administration has waged an unprecedented war on immigrants and refugees, from the discriminatory travel ban to slashing the number of resettled refugees. If confirmed, Mortensen would work to dismantle the program that has allowed my fellow refugees and I to build new lives.

The American people deserve a responsible person who will honor our integrity. We need someone who models our American values through leadership in the global community.

Basma Alawee,

Florida refugee organizer,

The Florida Immigrant Coalition