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House GOP releases impeachment articles in bid to oust Homeland Security's Mayorkas

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies on Capitol Hill in November 2023.
Alex Brandon
/
AP
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies on Capitol Hill in November 2023.

Updated January 28, 2024 at 4:18 PM ET

The House Committee on Homeland Security on Sunday released draft articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In its 20-page resolution, the Republican-led committee accuses Mayorkas of high crimes and misdemeanors, including "willfully" disregarding immigration law.

The two articles accuse Mayorkas of "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law" for failing to manage the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and "breach of public trust."

Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., said the committee had "exhausted all other options to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable" and that "Congress must exercise its constitutional duty and impeach him."

Democrats on the committee and DHS are calling the articles a "sham."

Ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., accused Republicans of abusing their impeachment power to "score political points."

"Republicans don't actually want to work towards bipartisan solutions to fix the border – in fact, they have repeatedly sabotaged the Secretary's efforts to secure the border and denied DHS' funding requests," Thompson said in a statement. "Secretary Mayorkas is upholding the law and honoring the public trust as he has throughout his more than 30 years of service to our Nation."

DHS responded Sunday with a memo that called Republicans' effort "a distraction from other vital national security priorities and the work Congress should be doing to actually fix our broken immigration laws."

"They don't want to fix the problem; they want to campaign on it. That's why they have undermined efforts to achieve bipartisan solutions and ignored the facts, legal scholars and experts, and even the Constitution itself in their quest to baselessly impeach Secretary Mayorkas," the memo read.

The committee plans to meet on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to mark up the articles and then could vote sometime time after that. If the articles pass the committee, they then go to the full House for an impeachment vote. It would then be up to the Democratic-led Senate on whether to convict.

Congressional Republicans have blamed Mayorkas for the arrival of a record number of migrants arriving at the southern border last year — roughly 2.5 million, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Biden administration has attributed the immigration surge to an uptick in violent crises around the world that have displaced many people.

Still, the complaints from congressional Republicans have been echoed by some conservative state leaders, who have bused and flown groups of migrants to cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Leaders of cities who have received buses of migrants have called the efforts politically motivated. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass told NPR last year that the effort was a "political stunt that was despicable."

For his part, Mayorkas and others in the DHS say it's the job of Congress to overhaul federal immigration laws and fix the country's broken immigration system.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is currently at work on a new immigration deal, but former President Donald Trump — who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination this year — opposes the agreement, which has threatened to upend its chances of success.

The only Cabinet official in U.S. history ever to be impeached was William Belknap, the secretary of war under President Ulysses Grant. Belknap's 1876 impeachment was related to bribery allegations and occurred after he had already resigned.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Washington Desk