The House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday approved, down party lines, two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — teeing up a floor vote as early as next week to impeach the embattled Biden official.
The committee voted down party lines to approve the two impeachment articles, which accuse Mayorkas of having “repeatedly violated laws enacted by Congress regarding immigration and border security” and of having “made false statements to Congress” that the border is secure and closed and that DHS is in operational control of the border. The articles will now go to the House where they will be voted on on the House floor.
The vote came after a lengthy, and at times, fiery hearing in which Republicans outlined their case for why Mayorkas should be removed from office for allegedly mishandling the crisis at the southern border and Democrats accused Republicans of debasing the impeachment process for political purposes.
“Today is a grave day,” Chairman Mark Green said. “We have not approached this day or this process lightly. Secretary Mayorkas’s actions have forced our hand. We cannot allow this border crisis to continue.”
Republicans spent the hearing emphasizing their case against Mayorkas, pointing to record high border crossings, with the record for monthly crossings having been broken in December, and mass releases of migrants into the interior along with narrowed interior enforcement. They accuse Mayorkas of not following immigration law, which they say demands the detention of illegal immigrants, and of failing to secure the border.
“My colleagues across the aisle, seem to say that it’s acceptable that we’ve had 10 million illegal crossings in three years and we’ve had pushing 300,000 Americans dead from opioid overdose. We’re losing our country down there. And the man responsible for executing that policy is Alejandro Mayorkas,” Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said.
Democrats pushed back, first attempting to adjourn the markup and then ripping into Republicans for the proceedings, accusing them of running a “sham” impeachment and of trying to impeach Mayorkas based purely on political motivations and policy disputes, and of interfering with Mayorkas’ efforts to solve the ongoing crisis.
“The extreme MAGA Republicans who are running the House of Representatives are deeply unserious people. They don’t want progress. They don’t want solutions,” Ranking Member Bennie Thompson said. “They want a political issue. And most of all, they want to please their disgraced former president.”
“You do not have a right to demean this institution, to bastardize the impeachment clause of the Constitution, to belittle the standard of constitutional impeachment to such a degree that you can’t even produce a legal memo in support of your articles of impeachment that do not exist in history and do not exist in the law,” Rep. Dan Goldman, D-NY., said.
The hearing comes after a bitter months-long argument over the process. Green’s committee began investigating Mayorkas last year and House impeachment articles were referred to the committee in November. The committee held two impeachment hearings earlier this month. Mayorkas did not testify, despite expressing willingness to testify — a subject of finger-pointing between the two sides over who was responsible. But on Tuesday he sent a lengthy letter slamming the proceedings and defending his record in office.
“I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted,” Mayorkas said.
The Biden administration has repeatedly said the crisis at the border has not been caused by policy, but is instead a Hemisphere-wide crisis combined with a “broken” immigration system that needs reform and comprehensive immigration reform. In his letter, Mayorkas declared that “problems with our broken and outdated immigration system are not new.”
“Our immigration laws last received an overhaul in 1996. Our immigration laws were simply not built for 21st century migration patterns,” Mayorkas said.
He pointed to stats including half a million removals since May, and daily removals nearly double what they were compared to from 2014-2019. He also says that the apprehension rate has been 78%, the same as the prior administration, and there has been a significant increase in removal flights within the Western Hemisphere.
He also points to increased Border Patrol hiring, an anti-smuggling campaign and an intensified anti-fentanyl effort that has seen more seizures of the deadly drug.
“Instead you claim that we have failed to enforce our immigration laws. That is false,” he said.
He also pushed back on the criticism his department has faced over an alleged lack of responsiveness to oversight queries from Congress, claiming instead that he has been responsive to Congress with testimony, witnesses and documents.
“The allegations are baseless and inaccurate,” he said.
If the House votes to impeach Mayorkas, then the case will go to the Senate for a trial.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson, Elizabeth Elkind and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
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