The House on Tuesday voted for a second time to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after the first vote failed last week. This time, Republicans received the outcome they sought.

“Tonight’s vote was a vote for law and order in our communities, and a vote to restore the rule of law at our southern border,” Rep. John Joyce, R-Penn., told The Daily Signal.  

On Tuesday night, 214 House members voted in favor of impeaching the DHS secretary, and 213 voted in opposition. No Democrats voted in favor. Three Republicans, Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Tom McClintock of California, also voted for a second time against impeachment.

“Our nation’s southern border has descended into crisis due to Secretary Mayorkas’ willful and systemic refusal to comply with federal immigration laws,” Joyce said. “By purposely neglecting to carry out the laws he was appointed to uphold and enforce, Secretary Mayorkas has allowed more than 10 million illegal immigrants to enter our nation under his watch.” 

Customs and Border Protection has encountered more than 8.5 million illegal aliens at or between America’s ports of entry since the start of the Biden administration in late January 2021. CBP has also confirmed more than 1.7 million known “gotaways” have crossed the border. Additionally, it is impossible to know how many illegal aliens have crossed the border entirely without detection. 

The exact number of illegal aliens released into the interior of the U.S. isn’t publicly reported. But during a closed-door meeting Jan. 8 with Border Patrol agents in Eagle Pass, Texas, Mayorkas reportedly said that more than 85% of the illegal aliens encountered at the border are released into the country.   

“Thousands of illegal aliens have been pouring across the border every single day,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., adding that this has allowed “cities to be overrun, Americans to be beaten and killed by criminal gang members, and hundreds of thousands to die from fentanyl overdoses.”

In a statement Tuesday night, DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said “House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain rather than working to solve the serious challenges at our border.”

“Without a shred of evidence or legitimate Constitutional grounds, and despite bipartisan opposition, House Republicans have falsely smeared a dedicated public servant who has spent more than 20 years enforcing our laws and serving our country,” Ehrenberg added.

Mayorkas becomes the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached since 1876. 

Tuesday’s vote was held one week after a House vote to impeach Mayorkas failed. With Republicans holding 219 seats in the House and Democrats with 212, plus four vacancies, Republicans could not stand to lose many votes. During the first vote, three Republicans, Gallagher, Buck, and McClintock, voted with all Democrats against impeaching Mayorkas. That tied the vote 215 to 215.  

In a tactical move, Rep. Blake Moore of Utah changed his vote to “Nay,” bringing the final vote to 214 to 216 against impeaching Mayorkas. Moore’s actions allowed the House to bring the articles of impeachment back to the floor for a second vote Tuesday night. Per House rules, a tie vote automatically loses in the House.  

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was out last week for cancer treatment, but returned to the House this week and gave Republicans the one additional vote needed to impeach Mayorkas.  

During an interview on Sunday with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mayorkas acknowledged that there is a crisis on the border, but said the Department of Homeland Security does not “bear responsibility for a broken system.” Mayorkas added that “fundamentally, Congress is the only one who can fix it.” 

What Happens Next?

Now that the House has impeached Mayorkas, the two charges go to the Senate, which has the authority to convict and remove Mayorkas from office after a trial.

Conviction on the charges in the Senate requires a two-thirds majority vote, which is unlikely given the fact that Democrats control the Senate

Republicans hold a total of 49 seats in the Senate and Democrats hold 48, but three independents vote with Democrats.

Heritage Action for America applauded the impeachment Tuesday night, writing in a statement that the “Senate now has a solemn and constitutional duty to consider the impeachment. This should be done in full view of the public so the American people can see the evidence against the person responsible for an invasion that has brought more than ten million illegal aliens into our country.” (Heritage Action is the policy advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, of which The Daily Signal is the news outlet.)   

Road to Mayorkas’ Impeachment

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, has called for Mayorkas’ impeachment for more than two years.

House Republicans should “push to impeach Mayorkas for failing to faithfully execute the laws,” Roy wrote on X, then Twitter, in July 2021 after a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas.  

In August 2021, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., first filed articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. In February 2023, Biggs filed “a new and exhaustive article of impeachment” against the Homeland Security chief. And in June 2023, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., introduced his own articles of impeachment against him.  

Last month, the House Homeland Security Committee released two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. The committee’s decision to move forward followed a five-phase investigation, led by Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., in which 10 public hearings examined topics under the following titles:  

  • “DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ Dereliction of Duty.”   
  • “DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Has Emboldened Cartels, Criminals and America’s Enemies.”   
  • “The Devastating Human Costs of the DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ Open-Borders Policies.”   
  • “The Historic Dollar Costs of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ Open-Borders Policies.”   
  • “The Massive Waste and Abuse Enabled by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.”    

“The House Committee on Homeland Security’s investigation and subsequent impeachment proceedings demonstrated beyond any doubt that Secretary Mayorkas has willfully and systemically refused to comply with the laws of the United States and breached the public trust,” Green said in a statement Tuesday night. “As a result,” Green continued, “our country has suffered from an unprecedented border crisis that has turned every state into a border state, causing untold suffering in communities across our country. With this vote, Congress has made clear that we will not tolerate such lawlessness.”

Why Impeach Mayorkas?

The House voted Tuesday on two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.

The House’s first article alleges that the homeland security secretary has failed to secure America’s border and enforce immigration laws, instead executing policies that incentivize illegal immigration.   

“Mayorkas has failed to uphold his constitutional duty of keeping our border secure,” Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., said in a video message Tuesday. “He has failed to uphold his oath to protect our nation, and he has breached the public trust by repeatedly lying to Congress and the American people.” 

The House’s second article of impeachment contends that Mayorkas is in breach of the public trust and knowingly has made false statements to Congress and the American people. 

In April 2022, Roy asked Mayorkas during a hearing: “Will you testify under oath right now: Do we have operational control [of the border], yes or no?”     

 “Yes, we do,” Mayorkas responded.     

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 defines operational control of the border as “prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.”    

During a hearing in July, Roy argued that Mayorkas was being dishonest with the American people when he claimed to have operational control of the border even as thousands of illegal aliens a day were crossing it.  

The Secure Fence Act “provides statutorily that operational control is defined as preventing all unlawful entries into the United States,” Mayorkas said in defending his record during a Senate hearing in March 2023. He added: “By that definition, no administration has ever had operational control.”  

Roy also has argued that Mayorkas knowingly lied to the American public in September 2021 regarding allegations that Border Patrol agents on horseback were seen and photographed “whipping” Haitian illegal aliens who had crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S.

“We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,” Mayorkas said during a press briefing after the alleged incident.  

Roy explained during a July 2023 hearing that it later came to light that Mayorkas was informed before the press conference that the photographer who took the photographs of the purported “whipping” had observed no such activity. Instead, Border Patrol agents were using the reins of their horses to control the animals, as they were trained to do.   

What Foes of Impeachment Say

“Instead of staging political stunts like this, Republicans with genuine concerns about the border should want Congress to deliver more border resources and stronger border security,” President Joe Biden said following the vote.

Democrat member of the House Homeland Security Committee Dan Goldman called the impeachment a “sham” on X Tuesday.

“After the first failure, the GOP squeezed in their sham impeachment of Sec. Mayorkas by one vote,” the New York Democrat said. “Instead of solving the issues at the border, they doubled down on this partisan stunt, further cheapening the solemn responsibility of impeachment. They will come to regret this.”

In a letter to the House Rules Committee that was released last week, top attorneys at the Department of Homeland Security called House Republicans’ articles of impeachment against Mayorkas “a dramatic departure from over two centuries of established understanding and precedent about the meaning of the Impeachment Clause of the Constitution and the proper exercise of that extraordinary tool.”  

The DHS lawyers’ 38-page letter argues that the impeachment effort was driven by politics, not policy, and is “unprecedented.”  

Their letter also argues that Mayorkas took his actions “in good faith” and they are “consistent with law.” Finally, it calls the charge that Mayorkas has broken public trust a baseless allegation.

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