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House Republicans inch closer to impeaching DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over southwest border crisis

If Mayorkas is convicted, he will be one of the few Cabinet officials to be removed from his position throughout the history of the U.S. executive branch, and the first in about 150 years to face removal.

Secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Alejandro Mayorkas | EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

January 11, 2024 9:08am

Updated: January 11, 2024 1:50pm

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas may be inching closer than ever before to impeachment.

The embattled secretary was the subject of a scathing hearing on Wednesday as he took fire from several House Republicans who heard the testimony of governors about how the migrant crisis at the southwest border has negatively impacted their states.

If Mayorkas is convicted, he will be one of the few Cabinet officials to be removed from his position throughout the history of the U.S. executive branch, and the first in about 150 years to face removal.

Since illegal immigration is a critical issue unlikely to go away amid the spotlight of the 2024 presidential election however, it is unlikely that House Republicans will ease up on the issue any time soon.

Many Americans have raised concerns about the record numbers of migrants pouring in across the border including Democratic mayors in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. ADN reported in December that in the recent November National Survey of Latino Voters, UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota found that even Hispanics rank the border crisis as the sixth most important issue on their list of concerns.

The border ranked sixth after economic issues such as inflation, cost of living, and health care costs while social issues such as abortion ranked as ninth, climate change 12th and “racial justice” 13th.

A record number of about 2.5 million migrants crossed—and were apprehended—at the southern border last year.

Congressional representatives on the House Committee on Homeland Security virtually accused Mayorkas of “dereliction of duty,” saying that the border has erupted in chaos due to selective enforcement.

The issue was divided mainly down party lines as Republican representatives went on the offensive and Democrats went on the defensive.

Committee chairman Mark Green, a Tennessee Republican said impeachment was justified because it includes “gross incompetence" that places Americans in danger and includes betraying the public trust.

Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson fired back, saying the hearing was “not a legitimate impeachment” and that Republicans were just trying to offer “political red meat to their base” to keep “campaign cash coming.”

While congressional Democrats and Republicans debated about the legitimacy of the hearing, witnesses backed up Republican concerns.

Attorneys general from Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma, all of which are controlled by Republican governors, complained that their northern midwestern states have felt the impact of the penetration at the southwestern border crisis.

"The southern border certainly presents a difficult challenge for any administration, but Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden administration have absolutely poured gasoline on this fire," Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen testified. 

The House Committee on Homeland Security hearing comes in the immediate wake of House Speaker Mike Johnson leading a delegation of 60 Republicans to the southwestern border to give them a “first-hand look at the damage and chaos the border catastrophe is causing in all of our communities.”

The DHS secretary made his own trip apart from the Republicans the day before the committee impeachment hearing, where he blamed Congress, and absolved his department of the problem. 

Mayorkas dismissed allegations about selective enforcement at the border, saying the notion that the Biden administration has been willingly not enforcing the law “baseless and pointless political attacks” that “could not be further from the truth.”

He also penned a DHS memo accusing congressional Republicans of failing to address “broken immigration laws.”

The southwest border crisis has emerged as one of the most significant issues in the 2024 presidential election and there are suggestions it has even impacted the way Hispanics and Latinos feel about the Democratic Party.

This week’s CBS News poll determined that 45% of Americans now believe the border situation is a crisis while 63% want stricter border policies.

Meanwhile, ADN reported on Jan. 2 that a recent USATODAY and Suffolk University poll found that the Democratic Party presidential nominee has lost 20% of both Blacks and Latinos who are now searching for a third-party alternative.

The poll also found that Biden was now trailing among Hispanics by 5 percentage points, 39% to 34%, and significant shift from 2020 when Biden overshadowed Trump among the Latino community 65% to 32%.

While the White House has taken fire from congressional Republicans, it is also taking heat from several Democratic mayors such as those in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, all of whom have complained about migrant arrivals from Texas as Gov. Greg Abbott continues to bus border crossers out of state.

ADN reported on Wednesday that sparks flew in New York after the city government shifted James Madison High School in Brooklyn to remote learning so it could use its gymnasium to house about 2,000 migrants who were in danger from extreme weather conditions at their tent city location at Floyd Bennett Field.

Embattled New York Mayor Eric Adams has felt heat from both sides as he tries to balance the safety for migrants against the complaints of his fellow Democratic councilmembers and constituents who are now seeing the impact of the crisis in their own backyard.

While New York has traditionally celebrated its status as a “sanctuary city,” the former NYPD chief turned mayor is warning that the pressure cooker in the city is about the burst.

Estimates have determined the current migrant crisis in NYC could cost taxpayers as much as $12 billion during the next three years.