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House Vote to Impeach Mayorkas over Border Crisis Fails

Virginia Allen : Feb 7, 2024  The Daily Signal

"House Republicans fully intend to bring Articles of Impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas back to the floor when we have the votes for passage." -Raj Shah, House Speaker Mike Johnson's deputy chief of communications

[] The House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening 214 to 216 against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. (Image via: Daily Signal /Screengrab-C-SPAN)

The vote on two articles of impeachment largely was along party lines, with Republicans holding 219 seats in the House and Democrats having 212 seats, plus four vacancies. (House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-LA, was scheduled to be absent for the vote.) 

Every House Democrat voted against impeaching Mayorkas along with four Republicans. Republican Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tom McClintock of California, and Blake Moore of Utah voted against the impeachment, according to Fox News' senior congressional correspondent, Chad Pergram.

Moore originally voted in favor of impeaching Mayorkas but then changed his vote to "Nay" in a tactical move that allows the House to bring the articles of impeachment back to the floor for another vote at a later time. Per House rules, a tie vote automatically loses in the House, Pergram explained on Fox News Tuesday night. Moore's switch gives Republicans another opportunity to impeach Mayorkas.

"House Republicans fully intend to bring Articles of Impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas back to the floor when we have the votes for passage," Raj Shah, House Speaker Mike Johnson's deputy chief of communications, wrote on X Tuesday night.

Fox News National Correspondent Bill Melugin shared the Department of Homeland Security's response to the failed impeachment vote on X.

"This baseless impeachment should never have moved forward; it faces bipartisan opposition and legal experts resoundingly say it is unconstitutional," DHS said, according to Melugin. "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."

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said Mayorkas "has blatantly ignored the laws of the United States he is charged to faithfully execute."

The homeland security secretary "has done so with reckless abandon," Roy said. "He has done so in a way that has led directly to the death of American citizens, to the death of the very migrants that the secretary suggests they want to try to help."

How We Got Here

"The secretary could apply the laws the way they're supposed to be applied with respect to asylum and parole, and he could stop it right now but refuses to do so," Roy said.

The Texas Republican has called for Mayorkas' impeachment for over two years.

House Republicans should "push to impeach Mayorkas for failing to faithfully execute the laws," Roy wrote on X, then Twitter, in July 2021 after a trip to the US-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas.

In August 2021, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-AZ, first filed articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. In February 2023, Biggs filed "a new and exhaustive article of impeachment" against Mayorkas. And in June 2023, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-LA, introduced his own articles of impeachment against the homeland security secretary.

Last month, the House Homeland Security Committee released two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. The committee's decision to move forward followed a five-phase investigation in which 10 public hearings examined topics under these titles:

  • "DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' Dereliction of Duty."
  • "DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Has Emboldened Cartels, Criminals and America's Enemies."
  • "The Devastating Human Costs of the DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' Open-Borders Policies."
  • "The Historic Dollar Costs of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' Open-Borders Policies."
  • "The Massive Waste and Abuse Enabled by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas."

Why GOP Sought to Impeach Mayorkas

The House's first article of impeachment against Mayorkas alleges that the homeland security secretary has failed to secure America's border and enforce immigration laws, instead executing policies that incentivize illegal immigration.

"Mayorkas has failed to uphold his constitutional duty of keeping our border secure," Rep. Michael Guest, R-MS, said in a video message Tuesday. "He has failed to uphold his oath to protect our nation, and he has breached the public trust by repeatedly lying to Congress and the American people."

Under Mayorkas' leadership in the Biden administration, US Customs and Border Protection logged more than 8.5 million encounters with illegal aliens at America's southern and northern borders.

The exact number of illegal aliens released into the interior of the US isn't publicly reported. But during a closed-door meeting Jan. 8 with Border Patrol agents in Eagle Pass, Texas, Mayorkas reportedly said that more than 85% of the illegal aliens encountered at the border are released into the country.   

The House's second article of impeachment contends that Mayorkas is in breach of the public trust and knowingly has made false statements to Congress and the American people.

In April 2022, Roy asked Mayorkas during a hearing: "Will you testify under oath right now: Do we have operational control [of the border], yes or no?"

"Yes, we do," Mayorkas responded.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 defines operational control of the border as "prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband."

During a hearing in July, Roy argued that Mayorkas was being dishonest with the American people when he claimed to have operational control of the border even as thousands of illegal aliens a day were crossing it. (Screengrab image: via PBS) 

The Secure Fence Act "provides statutorily that operational control is defined as preventing all unlawful entries into the United States," Mayorkas said in defending his record during a Senate hearing in March 2023. He added: "By that definition, no administration has ever had operational control."

Roy also has argued that Mayorkas knowingly lied to the American public in September 2021 regarding allegations that Border Patrol agents on horseback were seen and photographed "whipping" illegal aliens who had crossed the Rio Grande into the US.

"We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation's ongoing battle against systemic racism," Mayorkas said during a press briefing following the alleged incident.  

Roy explained during a July 2023 hearing that it later came to light that Mayorkas was informed before the press conference that the photographer who took the photographs of the alleged "whipping" had observed no such activity. Instead, Border Patrol agents were using the reins of their horses to control the animals, as they were trained to do.

What Opponents of Impeachment Say

Two Republicans voiced their opposition to the impeachment effort before Tuesday's vote.

In a commentary published Monday by The Hill, Colorado's Buck wrote: "Secretary Mayorkas has completely failed at his job. He is incompetent. He is an embarrassment. And he will most likely be remembered as the worst secretary of homeland security in the history of the United States."

Adding that "the Constitution is clear that impeachment is reserved for 'Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,'" Buck wrote: "Maladministration or incompetence does not rise to what our Founders considered an impeachable offense."

California's McClintock said he would not vote to impeach Mayorkas because "Cabinet secretaries can't serve two masters."

"They can be impeached for committing a crime related to their office, but not for carrying out presidential policy," McClintock argued.

In a letter to the House Rules Committee that was released Tuesday, top attorneys at the Department of Homeland Security called House Republicans' articles of impeachment against Mayorkas "a dramatic departure from over two centuries of established understanding and precedent about the meaning of the impeachment clause of the Constitution and the proper exercise of that extraordinary tool."

The DHS lawyers' 38-page letter argues that the impeachment effort was driven by politics, not policy, and is "unprecedented."

Their letter also argues that Mayorkas' took his actions "in good faith" and they are "consistent with law." Finally, it calls the charge that Mayorkas has broken public trust a baseless allegation.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, called Republicans' efforts to impeachment Mayorkas a "sham" in a post on X Tuesday. Jeffries wrote that impeachment has "Absolutely nothing" to do with "addressing the challenges at our border."

Rep. Robert Garcia, D-CA, called the House GOP's impeachment drive a "stunt to get Donald Trump reelected." Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Virginia Allen is a senior news producer and podcast host for The Daily Signal.

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