A Texas Republican has filed articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, wasting little time in the new Congress to act on a GOP priority leadership has said would come after thorough investigation.
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed the paperwork for the resolution on Jan. 3, the first day of the 118th Congress, though with delays in securing a House Speaker, the document was officially filed late Monday.
The resolution claims Mayorkas “engaged in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with his duties,” complaining that he has failed to maintain operational control over the border.
The resolution comes amid a busy week in the Biden administration. President Biden visited the border over the weekend for the first time since taking office, pledging to deliver more resources to the officers who patrol the region.
And Mayorkas is in Mexico this week, meeting with officials there on a variety of issues, including the shared migration agreement rolled out by the Biden administration last week.
Mayorkas is also due to discuss coordination on transnational crime with Mexican authorities.
Fallon’s resolution won’t move without further action from GOP leadership, but it would otherwise jump-start a process House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has treaded carefully on.
“House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas, in November.
Still, impeachment charges against Mayorkas were all but certain under Republican control of the House, as the DHS secretary has been a constant foil for the party during the Biden administration.
Republicans claim that under Biden, the DHS has dismantled the border security apparatus built under former President Trump, leading to border chaos.
The primary basis for the articles of impeachment is the claim that Mayorkas lied to Congress — a case they back by pointing to two instances in which the secretary told lawmakers he believed the Southern border was under control.
“His willful actions erode our immigration system, undermine border patrol morale, and imperil American national security. He must be removed from office,” Fallon said in a release.
DHS said Tuesday that Mayorkas has no plans to resign and argued that the grounds for impeachment pointed to by the GOP were both inaccurate and failed to meet the standards to qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.
“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Marsha Espinosa said in a statement.
“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years.”
Most border and immigration analysts agree that increased migration due to security, economic and governance conditions in the Western Hemisphere is the primary reason for the high number of migrants encountered at the border.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speak before a meeting with President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
And Mayorkas has taken flak both from the right and the left, as the DHS has maintained many of the Trump administration’s border policies, which immigrant advocates say violate human rights.
Still, Republicans see the border as a winning issue for them, and Mayorkas is the Biden administration’s face on that issue.
Mayorkas, the first Latino to ever hold that post, has often butted heads with congressional Republicans at oversight hearings.
In April, Mayorkas clashed with Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, including a notable exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) over the agency’s record on deportations from the interior of the country.
That combative exchange could set the tone for impeachment proceedings.
The potential for a political circus is concerning for Republicans fresh off a nationally televised Speaker’s race that highlighted divisions in the party.
Some Republicans have expressed reservations about going after Mayorkas without careful study.
“You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
“Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so,” he added.
—Updated at 5:15 p.m.