The ousted Secretary of Homeland Security is working with Republicans who want him out

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

The ousted Secretary of Homeland Security is working with Republicans who want him out

Immigration and the border

Andrea Castillo

April 10, 2024

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas was expected to test his agency’s 2025 budget on Wednesday, just as Republicans in the House of Representatives advanced articles of impeachment against him to the Senate.

Instead, Republicans held off, opting to wait until next week as they tried to argue for a full Senate trial of the first U.S. Cabinet official to be impeached in nearly 150 years.

It’s been two months since Mayorkas, a California native and the highest-ranking Latino in the federal government, was narrowly ousted by a single vote margin.

Republicans in the House of Representatives, who see chaos at the southern border as a way to regain control of the White House and Senate, have said his failure to prevent record migrant arrivals meets the constitutional bar for impeaching serious crimes and misdemeanors. They have accused him of refusing to enforce existing immigration laws and betraying the public trust by lying to Congress and saying the border was secure.

On Wednesday, Mayorkas continued testing before the House and Senate Homeland Security subcommittees. The sometimes tense back-and-forth of the hearings demonstrated the precarious position of the embattled secretary, who must find a way to work with Republicans who want him out.

Mayorkas testified that his office needs funding for more Border Patrol agents, asylum officers, detention capacity and deportation flights, as he renewed calls for Congress to pass the bipartisan national security bill that failed earlier this year.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), echoing the arguments behind the impeachment case, told Mayorkas he was pointing fingers at Congress for a crisis of his own making.

“I asked for your resignation last year and I stood by my request,” she told him.

Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) recalled Mayorkas referring to the expansion of legal routes to the U.S. and asked him, “Who makes laws?”

“Congressman, if you have to ask me questions to which you know the answers, allow me to answer: Congress,” Mayorkas responded.

Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) raised reports that Biden is exploring an executive order to close the border without congressional approval. Guest asked if Mayorkas was involved in those conversations.

“We are continually evaluating what options are available to us,” Mayorkas responded. “I will share with you that executive action, which will inevitably be challenged in court, is not a substitute for the lasting solution of legislation that will fix a broken immigration system that everyone agrees on.”

Still, Republican lawmakers were pleased to hear Mayorkas call the situation at the southern border a crisis. Hi told NBC News it was a crisis in February, after Biden did so but briefly stopped using that word during earlier Congressional hearings.

Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Fl


a.), referring to what she called a “baseless impeachment effort,” thanked Mayorkas for his commitment to his job.

“You have faced an unprecedented, brutal and personal campaign against you and your associates at the Department of Homeland Security from my colleagues on the right,” she said.

At the start of the Senate appropriations hearing, Chairman Chris said Wednesday afternoon

Topher S.

Murphy (D-Conn.) shouted the articles of impeachment like an elephant in the room.

“There is not a single act of impeachable misconduct mentioned in these articles,” he said. “The trial embarrassed the House of Representatives. These articles are laughable on their face.”

Senator John Kennedy (RL


a.), meanwhile, criticized Democrats for, as he sees it, trying to sweep the impeachment under the rug.

“Most Republicans don’t trust you, and a vast majority of the American people don’t trust you,” Kennedy told Mayorkas. “That’s why you were impeached.”

Republicans hoping for a full Senate trial are likely to be disappointed. Democrats have the majority in the Senate and appear ready to immediately dismiss the case if it arises


the Senate next week. However, Democrats’ majority in the Senate is slim, raising the possibility that the plan to dismiss the case will fall short if only a few Democrats drop out.

Even if it goes to trial, Mayorkas will certainly be acquitted because it would take two-thirds of the Senate to convict him, and no Democrats have expressed support for impeachment.

“We want to address this issue as quickly as possible,” the Senate said

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York)

said in floor remarks Wednesday. “And as I said yesterday, impeachment should never be used to resolve policy disagreements. That sets a terrible precedent. So when the time comes for the Senate to receive the articles of impeachment from the House of Representatives, be prepared.”

Democrats are calling the impeachment effort a politically motivated overreach and saying Mayorkas is being used as a pawn in the upcoming presidential race.

Mayorkas narrowly escaped the House of Representatives’ first impeachment attempt when three Republican lawmakers, including one from California, broke ranks with their party and joined Democrats in voting no. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives succeeded in their second attempt.

When I say I’m not focused on the impeachment proceedings, I mean it, Mayorkas told reporters on Friday. I hope my time is not taken away from my work.


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