Republicans in the House of Representatives insist on impeaching the mayor because of border politics

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee continued to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas on Tuesday over his handling of the Southwest border, competing with a partisan indictment of President Biden’s immigration policies.

In what was expected to be a partisan vote, the commission was poised to charge Mr. Mayorkas with refusing to comply with the law and violating public trust in his handling of the influx of migrants across the United States’ border with Mexico, paving the way for a vote by the full House. as early as next week.

“Secretary Mayorkas has put his political preferences above the law,” said Representative Mark E. Green, Republican of Tennessee and the committee’s chairman, at the start of Tuesday’s session. He added that the results of Mr. Mayorkas’ border policy were “disastrous and have threatened the lives and livelihoods of all Americans.”

Republicans were set to approve the charges in the face of stiff opposition from Democrats and a growing consensus among legal experts that they have presented no evidence that the secretary committed impeachable wrongdoing.

GOP leaders, whose majority in the House of Representatives has shrunk by the slimmest of margins, will need near-unanimous support to impeach Mr. Mayorkasa in full hall. They believe they can reach that level despite lingering skepticism in their ranks about whether a recall is warranted.

“None of the impeachment charges that the committee will consider today is a high crime or a misdemeanor,” Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the panel, said Tuesday. He added that Republicans in the House of Representatives “do not want progress. They don’t want solutions. They want a political issue.”

Although House Democrats raised a number of procedural objections to the impeachment process, their efforts to shut down the process failed on Tuesday in a series of party-line votes.

The charges, if they pass the House, would surely collapse in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict and remove Mr. Mayorkas. But they would force a trial in an election year in which Republicans will have a chance to air their indictment of Mr. Biden’s immigration policies.

Republicans accused Mr. Mayorkas of violating provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that mandate that migrants who are otherwise inadmissible to the United States “be detained” pending their removal or a decision on their asylum claims.

“Instead of complying with this request, Alejandro N. Mayorkas implemented a catch-and-release scheme, whereby such aliens are illegally released,” the first impeachment article said.

It also accuses Mr. Mayorkas of failing to detain every migrant deportable on crime or terrorism grounds, and of “deliberately exceeding his parole authority” under the law to allow large categories of migrants into the country. Among them are Ukrainians and Afghans fleeing war and Venezuelans, Haitians and others fleeing economically devastated countries.

But immigration laws give the president and his administration broad powers to manage the border as they see fit. For example, the same law Republicans cite in one of the impeachment articles also gives the administration the freedom to temporarily let individuals into the country for humanitarian or public benefit reasons on a case-by-case basis — with no further limits on how broadly it can be applied. Such parole powers have existed since the 1950s, and several administrations — including those of former presidents Donald J. Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush — have used them to allow large numbers of migrants to temporarily live and work in the United States .

Articles of impeachment also charge Mr. Mayorkas that he obstructed the GOP investigation and that he “knowingly made false statements” about the state of security on the southern border with Mexico. It is a reference to the testimony that Mr. Mayorkas told Congress in 2022 that his department had “operational control” of the border, which Republicans say is patently false under the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which defines the term as the absence of any illegal crossing of migrants or drugs.

Mr. Mayorkas said he used the far lower standard of “operational control” used by the Border Patrol, which defines the term as “the ability to detect, respond to and stop border intrusions in areas considered a high priority.”

In a letter to the council on Tuesday, the secretary, who was barred by Republicans from testifying publicly in his own defense after scheduled arguments, strongly disputed the allegations.

“You argue that we have failed to enforce our immigration laws,” Mr. Mayorkas wrote. “That’s fake.” He said Republican allegations that he obstructed their investigations were “baseless and inaccurate.”

The GOP investigation into Mr. Mayorkas culminates as a bipartisan group of senators races to finalize the border security deal the secretary helped negotiate. But the deal faces bleak prospects as Republicans, egged on by Mr Trump, denounced it as too weak and Speaker Mike Johnson declared it “dead on arrival” in the House.

Mr. Biden pleaded with Congress to approve the plan, vowing to “close the border” if it becomes law.

Democrats have argued that Republicans are impeaching Mr. Mayorkas as part of a strategy to keep the border in chaos so that Mr. Trump, who is once again marching toward the GOP presidential nomination, can use public discontent and a campaign promise to fix it.

“Republicans continue challenges at the border to help re-elect Donald Trump,” Democrats on the Homeland Security panel wrote in the report. They claimed that the GOP was trying to make Mr. Mayorkasa makes a scapegoat for problems that only Congress can solve.

“They are playing a political blame game to deflect attention from their failure to take meaningful action on border security and immigration legislation and to provide necessary funding for border security,” the report said.

Republicans argue that the Constitution offers enough leeway to impeach an official for what they call his “misbehavior” under the law.

“His refusal to obey the law is not only a violation of the United States Constitution’s separation of powers,” one impeachment article said. “It also threatens our national security and has a dire impact on communities across the country.”

Democrats say Republicans are pandering to the hard right by trying to use a tough constitutional penalty against Mr. Mayorkas.

“This is a political stunt and a hit deal,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, told reporters Monday. “House Republicans have clearly turned over their dwindling majority to extremists, and this bogus impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas is just another sad example.”

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