Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, urged the Donald Trump administration to withdraw the nomination of Ronald Mortensen, a vocal opponent of immigration, to serve as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the senators cited Mortensen’s well-documented anti-immigrant views and urged the administration to nominate an individual who will uphold the U.S.’ legacy of promoting the human rights of displaced people.

“While we appreciate your efforts to address the Department’s staffing needs and look forward to confirming a qualified nominee for this important position, we are deeply concerned about the possibility of a virulent opponent of immigration serving as the U.S.’ senior diplomat for migration and refugee policies,” the senators wrote. “As a fellow for the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, Mr. Mortensen has spread misinformation about immigrants and displayed a lack of empathy for innocent men, women and children fleeing violence and oppression.

“At a time when more than 65 million people are displaced worldwide, the nomination of Mr. Mortensen for this position sends a chilling message to all those around the world who look to the U.S. as a beacon of hope and security for persecuted peoples,” the senators wrote.

The full letter is available at