House Republicans conducted a hearing Wednesday to press the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for allowing millions of illegal aliens to enter the United States. 

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., lawmakers discussed the need to impeach and remove Mayorkas from office in the wake of the historic crisis at the nation’s southwest border.

After holding more hearings, the panel is expected to advance articles of impeachment targeting Mayorkas and vote on whether to send them to the full House for consideration.

Here are some key takeaways from the hearing.

Green Makes Case for Impeachment

Green, the committee chairman, insisted that what’s at stake isn’t just policy differences. 

Rather, the Tennessee Republican said, Mayorkas intentionally created conditions for chaos at the border that led millions of illegal immigrants from around the world to cross into the country from Mexico.

In an op-ed published by Fox News just before the hearing, Green laid out his case for impeaching and removing Mayorkas.

He wrote that for three years, an “unprecedented and wholly avoidable crisis” unfolded at the border that was intentionally caused by Mayorkas.

“This is a crisis of epic proportions,” Green wrote. “Between Feb. 1, 2021 [and] November 2023, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recorded more than 8.1 million encounters of inadmissible aliens at our borders nationwide, including more than 6.7 million at the southwest border alone.”

Green recounted those numbers at the House hearing. He said Mayorkas repeatedly had misled the American public and Congress, and that his own investigation found over 100 instances of such misleading in the homeland security secretary’s previous testimony.

Green said that at one hearing, Mayorkas claimed to have “operational control” of the southwest border as defined by federal statute, but this was false. Mayorkas then told another “lie,” Green said, when he said that he doesn’t use the statutory definition of operational control to arrive at that conclusion.

“Secretary Mayorkas’ refusal to follow the law is sufficient grounds for impeachment proceedings,” Green said. “The constitutional history is overwhelmingly clear on this subject. The Founders designed impeachment not just to remove officials for criminal behavior, but those guilty of such gross incompetence that their conduct had endangered their fellow Americans, betrayed the public trust, or represented a neglect of duty.”

Democrats Call Impeachment a Republican Gimmick 

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in his opening statement that Republicans’ plan to impeach and remove Mayorkas is about appealing to campaign donors. 

Republicans began their “so-called investigation” of Mayorkas after an event with donors, Thompson argued.

“It is now campaign season, and Republicans rolled out impeachment proceedings against Secretary Mayorkas like a preplanned, predetermined political stunt that it is,” he said. “This is not a legitimate impeachment.”

The procedure is all about throwing “red meat” to the Republican base to keep donors’ dollars flowing, Thompson said.

Thompson also contended that it was Republicans who blocked more funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans are going after Mayorkas, he said, because they don’t like President Joe Biden’s border policies.

Republicans are “angry that [the Biden] administration won’t take babies from their moms or put kids in cages like the last administration,” Thompson said.

Mayorkas has done an excellent job keeping the border secure, he concluded.

“Despite what Republicans would have you believe, Secretary Mayorkas is enforcing immigration law,” the Mississippi Democrat said.

Witnesses Cite Mayorkas’ Border Failures

Witnesses invited to speak at the House hearing argued that the border has spun out of control during Mayorkas’ time at the helm and the situation since February 2021 has endangered Americans. 

Most of the witnesses were state attorney generals who have dealt with problems created by illegal immigration.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, a Republican, said that the problems at the southern border would create problems for any administration, but that Mayorkas and the Biden administration “poured gasoline” on the fire.

Knudsen said the flow of illicit drugs through the U.S.-Mexico border has decimated communities and empowered criminals. Great progress had been made under President Donald Trump, he said, but Mayorkas’ leadership of the Department of Homeland Security eroded that progress.

The most obvious result of the rollback of the Trump administration’s border policies, Montana’s attorney general said, is the explosion of fentanyl and methamphetamines in his state.

“In 2020, drug task forces in Montana seized 6,663 doses of fentanyl,” Knudsen said. “In 2021, the first year of Secretary Mayorkas’ watch at the border, that quantity exploded tenfold to 61,000 dosage units of fentanyl.”

By 2022 that number had tripled, he said, the state seized 190,000 doses of fentanyl from the drug cartels. This number likely hit half a million doses in 2023, based on current estimates, he said.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, a Republican, explained how the legalized marijuana business in his state has been taken over by criminal operations of foreign nationals, mostly from China and Mexico.

“The one thing these criminals have in common is that they have no regard for our laws or public safety,” Drummond said. “Criminal illegal immigrants are not content with only producing black market marijuana; they also produce and distribute fentanyl, and they also engage in sex trafficking and labor trafficking.”

It is time for “accountability,” Drummond said, and Oklahomans shouldn’t have to live under “constant threat from criminal foreign nationals.”

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, also a Republican, said that Biden administration policies under Mayorkas made it easier for illegal immigrants to enter the country and the result is chaos for states now dealing with the mess.

Mayorkas, Bailey said, “tried to define the problem away by simply making something that was once illegal [into] something legal, without congressional authorization.”

Green, as committee chairman, asked the three state attorneys general whether they thought Mayorkas had failed to enforce or subverted laws passed by Congress. 

“Yes,” each answered. 

A Problem That Congress Must Solve

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., spoke about how the attorneys general of Texas and Louisiana sued Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security, arguing that the agency blatantly violated congressional statutes.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that it had no standing in the matter. However, Bishop read from Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent, in which he wrote that it was essentially up to Congress, not the courts, to deal with the executive branch if it operates in violation of the law. 

Alito included the use of impeachment.

“Alito said Congress is going to have to go to war with the executive,” Bishop said in summing up.

What is happening under Mayorkas have been “square violations of the law,” the North Carolina Republican said, and Congress must address those violations.

“They will either be dealt with by this Congress to vindicate the rule of law or we will surrender rule of law to the rule of man,” Bishop said.

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