Sunday, March 3, 2024

House Republicans Prepare to Impeach Mayorkas: ‘Breach of the Public Trust’

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House Republicans released two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday.

They contend Mayorkas is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for not securing the U.S. southern border. Republicans say the secretary’s actions amount to a “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” on immigration and a “breach of the public trust.”

Impeachment is “Congress’s only viable option,” they said. 

“Alejandro N. Mayorkas willfully and systemically refused to comply with the immigration laws, failed to control the border to the detriment of national security, compromised public safety, and violated the rule of law and separation of powers in the Constitution, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States,” the impeachment resolution states.

The two articles mark the culmination of a roughly yearlong examination by Republicans of the secretary’s handling of the border and what they describe as a crisis of the administration’s own making. 

Republicans contend that the administration and Mayorkas specifically either got rid of policies in place under Trump that had controlled migration or enacted policies of their own that encouraged migrants from around the world to come to the U.S. illegally via the southern border. They also accuse Mayorkas of lying to Congress, pointing to comments about the border being secure or about vetting of Afghans airlifted to the U.S.

In the articles, Republicans argue that Mayorkas is deliberately violating immigration laws passed by Congress, such as those requiring detention of migrants, and that through his policies, a crisis has arisen at the border. They accuse him of releasing migrants without effective ways to make sure they show up for court or are removed from the country. They cited an Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo written by Mayorkas that sets priorities for whom the agency should target for enforcement proceedings as proof that he is letting people stay in the country who don’t have the right to do so.

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The rare step against a Cabinet member drew outrage from Democrats and the agency as a politically motivated stunt lacking the constitutional basis to remove Mayorkas from office.

“What is glaringly missing from these articles is any real charge or even a shred of evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors – the Constitutional standard for impeachment,” the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson, said in a statement. “That should come as no surprise because Republicans’ so-called ‘investigation’ of Secretary Mayorkas has been a remarkably fact-free affair.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is promising a vote on the articles as soon as possible. Passage requires only a House majority. The Senate would hold a trial, and a two-thirds vote is required for conviction, an exceedingly unlikely outcome in the Democratic-run Senate.

Johnson Tells Biden He Already Has Authority to Close the Border

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is using border security as a bargaining chip, offering to close the border if Congress approves aid money for Ukraine. But the proposal, still being worked on by Senate negotiators, would still allow 5,000 illegal immigrants to enter the country each day. 

Biden said in a statement Friday that the proposed policies would “be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country.” He also pledged to use a new emergency authority to “shut down the border” as soon as he could sign it into law.

Johnson said the president already has “ample authority” to close the border. 

“My office has documented at least 64 specific actions taken by his {Biden’s} administration that effectively opened our border and instituted the current chaos. Rather than accept accountability, President Biden is now trying to blame Congress for what HE himself intentionally created,” Johnson said in a letter to his Republican colleagues. 

The House Speaker further argued that Biden could start to fix the border problems “with the stroke of a pen.” 

Former President Donald Trump – the top contender for the GOP presidential nomination – urged Republicans not to make a deal with Biden on the border. 

“A bad border deal is far worse than no border deal,” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also warned in a post to X on Saturday, “This border deal is a farce. Joe Biden could stop the invasion cold if he wanted to. He does not want to. The appropriate number of illegal entries is zero.” 

Text of Bill to be Released Soon

In the Senate, negotiators on the highly anticipated bipartisan border deal are signaling they have a deal and the text of the bill is almost ready. 

“This bill could be ready to be on the floor of the United States Senate next week,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the lead negotiators, told CNN. 

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), the lead GOP negotiator, claims the deal makes dramatic changes to the immigration system and gives the commander-in-chief new authorities to take action at the border. 

“Do not have a vote count yet on this because everybody’s got to be able to read it to be able to go through, but I do feel very positive about it because even the initial feedback has been good,” Lankford told CBS on Sunday. 

Even though the text of the bill has yet to be released, Oklahoma’s Republican Party approved a resolution over the weekend condemning Senator Lankford for his role in the bipartisan border negotiations, claiming he’s “playing fast and loose with democrats on border policy” and putting “the safety and security of Americans in danger.” 

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