House Takes Step Toward Impeaching DHS Chief

Republicans accuse Mayorkas of failing to enforce immigration laws
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2024 12:25 PM CST
House Launches Mayorkas Impeachment Hearings
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a news conference at the US Border Patrol South Station in Eagle Pass, Texas, Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.   (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

House Republicans took another step Wednesday toward making Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first Cabinet member to be impeached since William Belknap, President Ulysses Grant's secretary of war, in 1876. The House Homeland Security committee held the first in a series of hearings that could lead to articles of impeachment being filed against the Democrat for allegedly failing to uphold immigration laws, NPR reports. The hearing included Republican attorneys general from states including Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma, reports the Guardian.

Mayorkas "has brazenly refused to enforce the laws passed by Congress and has enacted policies that knowingly made our country less safe," said Republican Rep. Mark Green, the committee's chairman. "What we are seeing here is a willful violation of his oath of office." Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the committee, said the impeachment effort was not legitimate and evidence will show Mayorkas is upholding immigration laws, the AP reports. "You cannot impeach a Cabinet secretary because you don't like a president's policies—that's not what impeachment's for," Thompson said. He accused Republicans of seeking to "throw political red meat to their base."

The impeachment push comes as migrant arrivals at the border with Mexico are at near-record levels, though the DHS rejected suggestions that the border is "open," saying in a memo that more than 1 million people encountered at the border were expelled in fiscal 2022 and 2023, with the 78% apprehension rate under the Biden administration "identical" to that of the Trump administration. Mayorkas has been working on a bipartisan immigration deal with Senate Republicans; if he is impeached by the House, the chances of a conviction in the Senate appear very slim. Belknap, who resigned after he was accused of taking kickbacks from trading posts on the Western frontier, was acquitted by the Senate. (A snap vote on impeaching Mayorkas in November was defeated 209-201.)

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