On Tuesday, the GOP-led House of Representatives failed to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, over his handling of the crisis at the southern border — marking a significant blow for House Republicans who have been pushing for his removal.
The House mostly voted along party lines, but the GOP suffered several defections that defeated the vote. Four Republicans eventually voted now: Representatives Blake Moore of Utah, Tom McClintock of California, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Ken Buck of Colorado. Moore switched his vote at the last minute in a procedural move to enable the resolution to be brought to the floor.
However, the Democrats remained united. The final vote was 216-214. Legislators voted on a resolution that combined two articles of impeachment that accused Secretary Mayorkas of having “refused to comply with Federal immigration laws.” The other was having violated “public trust.” A secretary in the Cabinet hasn’t been impeached since 1876, when William Belknap, Secretary of War, was impeached.
The move is a devastating defeat for the GOP majority, which held hearings throughout 2023 on the secretary’s “dereliction of duty” and other hearings on the impeachment articles earlier in the year. Legislators accused Secretary Mayorkas of ignoring federal law with “open border policies” that have made the continuing crisis at the southern border worse.
Republicans point out the roll-back of Trump-era policies, like the “Remain in Mexico” and border wall construction, reduction of interior enforcement, and expanding “catch-and-release.” They maintain it has fueled record southern border numbers, breaching the 300,000 mark in December.
“Under Secretary Mayorkas’ watch, Customs and Border Protection has reported more than 8.5 million encounters at our borders, including more than 7 million apprehensions at our borders, including more than 7 million apprehensions at the southwest border,” said Republican Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green, of Tennessee, on the floor of the House.
“Even more terrifying is the approximately 1.8 million known gotaways that Border Patrol agents detect but are unable to apprehend. Millions of those inadmissible aliens who are encountered are eventually released into our communities. This has never happened before in our history. And it doesn’t happen by accident.”
Rep. Green said the GOP had “no other option” than to proceed.
“We, the people’s representatives, have not opinion, no option but to exercise this duty when branch officials blatantly refuse to comply with the laws we have passed threaten the separation of powers, imperiled the constitutional order, and expose Americans to untold suffering and death,” said Green.
Dems say impeachment push is politically motivated
Democrats and the Biden administration have characterized the impeachment push as nothing more than that approaches high crimes and misdemeanors or politically motivated on little more than policy disagreements.
“Far from alleging high crimes and misdemeanors, this resolution relies on the same tired and untrue Republican talking points that Democrats have demonstrated for months are not true,” said Democrat Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington.
Ranking Homeland Security Democrat member Bennie Thompson of Mississippi called the push an “affront to the Constitution” and a “travesty.”
“Rather than doing what’s right for America because it’s clear that Republicans have failed to make the case for impeachment. They have failed to articulate a single high crime and misdemeanor. The other side of the aisle reeks of desperation,” said Thompson.
Mayorkas has also attacked the push against him and called the allegations “baseless” and “false.”
“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.
DHS indicated that there have been over 500,000 removals since May, along with record fentanyl seizures to counteract claims it has pursued open border policies. It has also called on the GOP to provide additional funding and work with the Biden administration to fix a “broken” immigration system. It also highlighted that former DHS officials and Republicans who have opposed the effort for impeachment.
“This baseless impeachment should never have moved forward; it faces bipartisan opposition, and legal experts resoundingly say it is unconstitutional,” said Mia Ehrenberg, DHS spokesperson, after the Tuesday vote. “If House Republicans are serious about border security, they should abandon these political games and instead support the bipartisan national security agreement in the Senate to get DHS the enforcement resources we need.”
“Secretary Mayorkas remains focused on working across the aisle to promote real solutions at the border and keep our country safe,” said Ehrenberg.
In the meantime, Democrats were triumphant at the defeat of the majority.
“House Republicans just tried to impeach Secretary Mayorkas purely as a political stunt, AND THEY FAILED,” said Jayapal on X. “As they keep wasting their time in the majority, Democrats will continue working for the American people.”
But at least one Republican suggested the battle may not be over.
“I will not STOP until Secretary Mayorkas is IMPEACHED,” posted GOP Representative Tony Gonzales. “House Republicans will hold the administration accountable, no matter how many votes it takes!”