Alejandro Mayorkas is accused of failing to enforce immigration laws at the border with Mexico
Republican lawmakers took another step on Wednesday towards launching an impeachment process against US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The official is accused of failing to secure the border with Mexico, which has seen a record number of illegal crossings in the past year.
Two impeachment articles were initially released by the House Homeland Security Committee last week. In the first document, Mayorkas was charged with “willful and systematic refusal to comply” with US immigration laws, while the second alleged that he had “breached the public trust” by making “false statements” to Congress and the American people
After a nearly 15-hour debate that lasted into the early hours of Wednesday, House Republicans participating on the committee voted to advance the articles against Mayorkas, arguing that the charges against him amount to impeachable offenses of high crimes and misdemeanors. The articles will next be voted on by the full House of Representatives, although it’s unclear when that will happen.
If the Republican bid succeeds, Mayorkas would become only the second cabinet secretary in US history to be impeached, with the last such incident taking place in 1876.
However, a number of legal experts have argued that such a turn of events is unlikely, claiming that the charges against Mayorkas do not constitute impeachable offenses based on the evidence provided so far by House Republicans.
Others have also pointed out that the US Senate remains in the hands of the Democratic Party, which is expected to acquit Mayorkas if the House vote succeeds.
Meanwhile, Mayorkas himself has denied the charges against him, arguing that the “broken and outdated immigration system” in the US is a long-standing issue. He has also called on Congress to help provide a legislative solution to the problem.
The charges against the Homeland Security chief, who has been at the helm since the start of Joe Biden’s presidency, come as Republicans and Democrats continue to clash over the situation at the US-Mexico border.
It’s estimated that more than 300,000 migrants illegally entered the US in December alone, marking a record monthly high. Meanwhile, as many as 7.5 million people are believed to have entered the country illegally since Biden took office in 2021, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.
In particular, Republicans have blamed the uptick on Biden’s controversial ‘catch and release’ policy, under which illegal migrants are detained but then released into the country, with orders to appear in court at a later date. As of December, the backlog of such cases was over 3.2 million.