Republicans in the lower chamber of Congress pushed ahead with their effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday, while their colleagues in the Senate pursue the first real bipartisan attempt at addressing border security in more than a half decade.
Tennessee congressman Mark Green released a draft of his articles of impeachment set to be filed against Mr Mayorkas on Sunday; Mr Green in his legislation accused the secretary of willfully violating existing US immigration laws and breaching the public trust by supposedly lying to congressional investigators.
If the effort were to be successful, Mr Mayorkas would become only the second Cabinet secretary in history to be impeached. He will not be, however, as the Republican impeachment campaign is certain to die in the Senate (if it even passes the House). Democrats control the upper chamber and will through 2024; a successful removal of Mr Mayorkas from office would require two-thirds of the upper chamber to vote in favour.
The bulk of the GOP’s impeachment argument revolves around the idea that the Biden administration is not detaining the bulk of migrants who are encountered after illegal crossings as they pursue asylum claims. Both the Biden White House and previously the Trump administration struggled with the logistics of detaining the thousands of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally every day; the Trump administration in particular faced intense criticism for the squalid conditions of many temporary migrant shelters and the policy of detaining young children apart from their parents in large caged-in areas.
Mr Green said in a statement Sunday that his draft resolution “lay[s] out a clear, compelling, and irrefutable case for Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ impeachment”.
“Having exhausted all other options to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable, it is unmistakably clear that Congress must exercise its constitutional duty and impeach him,” he added.
But Democrats in Congress and the administration have ridiculed the impeachment effort brought by Republicans, which is now set to kick off as the House simultaneously considers the impeachment of Joe Biden himself.
Many have argued that the government simply has no way to transport and house such large numbers of people in a humane manner, and with negotiations continuing in the Senate over possible legislation aimed at tightening border controls the House GOP’s campaign has become ammunition for Democrats who argue that their Republican rivals are not serious about working to find solutions.
Adding fuel to the fire, as always, is former President Donald Trump. The wide favourite to win the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, Mr Trump is pressuring Senate Republicans to kill efforts to reach a compromise with Democrats on the issue. “A BAD BORDER DEAL IS FAR WORSE THAN NO BORDER DEAL,” he wrote in one Truth Social posting.
The Department of Homeland Security drove those argument against the GOP home on Sunday with a memo condemning Mr Green’s draft articles of impeachment. The memo blasts Mr Green’s resolution as unconstitutional, arguing that the allegations contained within the articles of impeachment do not rise to the standard of “high crimes or misdemeanors” required by the Constitution. It also accuses Mr Green of being hell-bent on impeachment from the start, pointing to his past efforts to fundraise off of his plans to file articles of impeachment against the secretary.
“Beyond being an illegitimate exercise unworthy of the job Members of Congress were actually sent to Washington to do, the ... Republicans’ impeachment effort is baseless. Secretary Mayorkas is enforcing and utilizing the law to safeguard our homeland exactly as every one of his predecessors did,” the DHS memo argues.
Republicans “don’t want to fix the problem; they want to campaign on it”, the agency also claimed.
Mr Biden’s impeachment, like the effort to impeach Mr Mayorkas, faces a rocky road out of the GOP-controlled House even before finding its final resting place in the Senate.
Swing-district Republicans in the lower chamber have largely avoided overt support for impeaching the president. Instead, those who have commented have offered lukewarm takes about how voting to launch the inquiry allows Americans to “get answers”. A handful of Republican members in the House have already said that they would not vote to formally support articles of impeachment against Mr Biden without more evidence emerging to support the allegations he faces.
Complicating the issue for Republicans: Their party holds a slimmer-than-ever majority in the House, holding just 219 seats to the Democrats’ 213. The recent resignations of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and ally Patrick McHenry after the former’s unceremonious ousting from the chair puts their party in a more tenuous position than ever; just a handful of absences could sink any chance of passing resolutions or other legislation without bipartisan support.