House Republicans opposing sweeping reforms to the nation’s immigration law tried — and failed — to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday over his handling of border security.
Republicans, who hold a razor-slim majority over Democrats, could only afford to lose two votes on the resolution accusing Mayorkas of presiding “over a reckless abandonment of border security and immigration enforcement, at the expense of the Constitution and the security of the United States.” The vote was 214-216.
House Speaker Mike Johnson insisted on going forward with the vote despite it becoming apparent earlier on Tuesday that the party would struggle to approve the resolution.
Republicans Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ken Buck of Colorado, Tom McClintock of California, and Blake Moore or Utah voted no.
“I think that it lowers the grounds of impeachment to a point where we can expect it to be leveled against every conservative Supreme Court justice and future Republican president and Cabinet member the moment the Democrats take control,” McClintock told CNN.
The Department of Homeland Security has denounced the impeachment effort as a baseless waste of valuable taxpayer time. On Monday, President Joe Biden’s administration issued a statement denouncing the effort as having “no basis in law or fact.”
“This impeachment effort clearly fails to meet the Constitution’s threshold for impeachable offenses. The Constitution permits impeachment only for ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’ The impeachment power was never intended as a device for members of an opposing political party to harass Executive Branch officials over policy disputes,” the statement read.
House Democrats also bashed the effort during arguments on Tuesday. “We’re here because the madcap wild goose chase to impeach Joe Biden has produced no wild geese,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) says Republicans are trying to impeach DHS Sec. Mayorkas as “consolation” for failing to produce credible evidence in their impeachment probe into Biden:
“We're here because the madcap wild goose chase to impeach Joe Biden has produced no wild geese.” pic.twitter.com/zefN92SMiA
— The Recount (@therecount) February 6, 2024
The Republican push to oust Mayorkas has been in the works for some time. In November, the House voted to refer an impeachment resolution against him to the Homeland Security Committee over the objections of hardline Republicans, and with eight GOP representatives voting alongside Democrats. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) withdrew a second attempt to impeach the secretary later that month, citing guarantees by Republican leadership that the party would move forward on the matter at a later date — a promise that has now come to fruition.
A report from the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this week said that the effort to impeach Mayorkas “begins the process of deporting Secretary Mayorkas from his position.” Mayorkas himself is a Jewish Cuban-born immigrant. On Tuesday, Homeland Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) referred to Mayorkas as a “reptile” who “has no balls to resign” during a meeting with fellow party members. Descriptions of Jewish people as reptiles or other sorts of creatures have long been used as an antisemitic trope against members of the religion.
As the House GOP pushes to impeach Mayorkas, they are simultaneously blocking a potentially transformative immigration and border reform package — largely under the guise that the legislation would grant Biden a political victory in an election year.
On Monday, the Border Patrol itself endorsed the legislation. Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller, a 30-year CBP veteran, called the bill “the strongest set of tools we have had in decades to effectively manage migration and enhance our nation’s border security.”
These proposed changes won’t fix everything in our immigration system,” Miller added. “But they are tough and fair. And, if enacted into law, they would make meaningful and substantial improvements to our nation’s border and national security.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the chief architects of the legislation, lambasted his Republican colleagues in the lower chamber during a Monday appearance on Fox News. “Are we as Republicans going to have press conferences and complain the border is bad, and then intentionally leave it open?” Lankford said in response to a tweet from House Speaker Mike Johnson calling the package “dead on arrival.”
“Are we gonna just complain about things or actually address and change as many things as we can?” he added. “It’s amazing to me, if I go back two months ago to say ‘we had a shot under a Democrat president to dramatically increase detention beds, deportation flights, lock down the border to be able to change the asylum laws, to be able to accelerate the process’ no one would be able to believe it — and now no one actually wants to be able to fix it?”
The Department of Homeland Security echoed the criticism in a January memo responding to the effort to impeach Mayorkas. “Republicans don’t want to fix the problem; they want to campaign on it,” the Department wrote, “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.”
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