The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing Wednesday on the Biden administration’s handling of border security. Following that hearing, several committee members discussed impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to take necessary actions to secure the border.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) told NTD that he would favor impeaching Mayorkas, though he noted the committee’s majority has not yet reached a decision on the matter.
“I think you should always investigate and do due diligence and be very careful, and again, the committee is not calling for it,” said Van Drew, who had switched from the Democratic to Republican Party after opposing the 2020 impeachment of then-President Donald Trump.
Van Drew specifically raised issue with allegations Mayorkas had lied about the level of control his department had over the border.
“[Mayorkas] says there’s absolutely no problem with the border. There’s no people being released. I mean, just the things that are completely nonfactual over and over again,” Van Drew said.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), another member of the House Judiciary Committee, focused his criticism on Mayorkas’s border security policies and the secretary’s claims that the border is secure.
“He took away policies that were working,” Biggs told NTD. “The border numbers were significantly lower under the previous administration. He’s blown all those policies up. So then that takes us to the numbers. He has said that the border is closed; it’s not closed.”
Biggs said the regular border security statistics that the DHS keeps “belie” Mayorkas’s own claims about having secured the border.
“The numbers that we’re talking about, almost 5 million people between the ports of entry illegally coming, that’s pretty real,” Biggs continued; “1.5 million known got-aways, plus unknown got-aways; the amount of drugs and fentanyl, you still only apprehending and interdicting about 10 percent, according to their estimate, but you have more than ever. You’ve got more terrorists coming in, you got more criminal gang members.”
Biggs said the situation at the U.S. border is not an accident or a matter of negligence, but a “feature of the system that [Mayorkas has] put in place.
For months, Republicans have raised the prospect of impeaching Mayorkas, after he and other members of the Biden administration have rolled back Trump-era immigration restrictions.
In January, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) introduced a resolution to begin the impeachment process. In the first impeachment article, Fallon argued that Mayorkas had illegally implemented catch-and-release directives and, through his leadership, “recklessly released” more than 1,000,000 illegal immigrants into the United States.
Fallon brought an additional impeachment charge alleging Mayorkas had perjured himself when he told Congress, under oath, that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has maintained “operational control” over the security of the U.S. border. In a third impeachment charge, Fallon accused Mayorkas of having slandered U.S. Border Patrol agents with his comments about allegations they had whipped illegal immigrants who attempted to cross the border.
Biggs filed a new article of impeachment against Mayorkas later on Wednesday.
NTD reached out to the DHS for comment but has not yet received a response.
Democrats Defend Biden Admin’s Border Efforts
While Republicans broadly criticized the Biden administration’s efforts on the border, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee accused those Republicans of playing politics.
“This whole nonsense about the open border, that the Biden administration is open border, it’s just not true,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the committee, told NTD.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) agreed, saying, “I think it’s pretty clearly, from what my colleagues across the aisle have said, this is to make a political point, not to actually examine the facts.”
Lofgren said she could not understand what the grounds for impeaching Mayorkas would be.
While Republicans have generally pursued restrictions to slow the flow of illegal immigrants and illicit drugs across the southern border, Democratic lawmakers have called those proposals ineffective and said reforms should focus on changing the immigration process.
“We continue to build the border wall, we continue to invest [record] amounts of money on border security, and yet we still have an immigration challenge,” said Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.).
Correa said the last major immigration reform came in the 1980s under Republican President Ronald Reagan. In 1986, Reagan passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which imposed penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants and individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States. The same act also granted amnesty and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants who entered the United States prior to 1982.
Since then, Correa said Congress has been unable to provide the types of reforms he favors.
“Immigration has always been a politicized, weaponized issue. The problem is we need solutions. We probably won’t get them this cycle,” Correa said.
When asked if she would accept additional funding for border security in exchange for reforms to the U.S. asylum process, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said, “What we’ve seen for the last several years is that we’ve attempted to do that, and border security funding has ramped up over and over again. I think that we need a lot more than just the asylee process in exchange.”
A Republican Alternative to Impeachment
While many members of the House Republican conference have indicated they would pursue impeaching Mayorkas, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said the secretary’s actions haven’t met the threshold for the procedure that could result in his removal from office.
“I don’t think impeachment is appropriate because I don’t think that he has committed to high crime or misdemeanor,” Buck told NTD.
Instead, Buck proposed Republicans use an appropriations tool, known as the Holman Rule, to cut Mayorkas’s salary.
“I do think that the Holman rule applies in this case where … he has failed to fulfill his duties, and we should be able to take out his salary and position as a result of his failure to complete his duties,” Buck said.
The Holman Rule is a specific appropriations rule in the House of Representatives that allows members to bring amendments to cut the salary of specified federal employees.