House Republicans, Democrats Spar over Grounds for Impeachment in Landmark Hearing
FAIR Take | January 2024
On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee conducted its first impeachment hearing to remove Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from office. The hearing, designed to focus on how Secretary Mayorkas’ failure to enforce the law has impacted states, quickly turned into a heated debate over whether there were adequate grounds for impeaching the Secretary—the first impeachment effort of a cabinet secretary since the Civil War era.
Before Wednesday’s hearing, both the White House and DHS circulated documents condemning the impeachment proceedings. The White House accused House Republicans of attacking the Secretary with “a baseless and extreme political stunt,” adding that, “you can’t simply impeach a Cabinet secretary because you disagree with them on policy.” A DHS memorandum stated that the hearings are the beginning of an “unprecedented process, led by extremists.”
Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) pushed back against those accusations throughout the hearing. In his opening statement, Green stated that Mayorkas left the Committee with “no reasonable alternative than to pursue the possibility of impeachment.” He closed by saying that, “No one is impeaching Secretary Mayorkas over policy differences. The impeachable offenses relate to violations of the law. Insisting on enforcing the law as written by Congress is not a policy difference. It is a fundamental requirement of the Constitution.”
The evidence gathered in the Committee’s five-phase investigation has likewise clearly shown that the impeachment effort is far from a political stunt based on policy differences. Secretary Mayorkas has taken deliberate action to undermine our immigration laws. For example, Mayorkas has established categorical parole programs in clear contravention of the statute requiring parole be temporary and granted on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. He has used Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as a de facto amnesty tool, subverting the intent of the law, which is to temporarily allow aliens to stay when they cannot return home due to war or emergencies. And he has actively undermined immigration enforcement, claiming that being in the U.S. illegally is not by itself grounds for removal.
The consequences of Mayorkas’ actions have been severe. As detailed by FAIR, under Secretary Mayorkas’ watch, more than 8 million illegal aliens have been encountered at our borders, and at least another 1.7 million known “gotaways” have evaded Border Patrol. As the surge continues, the number of illegal aliens on the non-detained docket has exploded under the Secretary’s leadership, with an estimated 6.2 million currently at large in the country awaiting court dates. That figure represents an increase of nearly 3 million under Mayorkas’ leadership, leading to American taxpayers now facing an estimated fiscal burden of $150.7 billion dollars a year and counting due to illegal immigration.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the Committee heard testimony from state attorneys general from Montana, Missouri, and Oklahoma, as well as a Professor of Emeritus Law from the University of Missouri School of Law. According to Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, since 2019, fentanyl overdose deaths have spiked 1,700 percent and human trafficking has increased dramatically in Montana. During his testimony, Knudsen argued that “no amount of funding or resources will change the status quo as long as Secretary Mayorkas is in charge…By willfully and intentionally failing to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, Secretary Mayorkas has violated his oath of office and breached the trust placed in him by the American people.” All three attorneys general spoke about the damaging impact of illegal immigration on their respective states, and attributed the border crisis to the failed enforcement and leadership of Mayorkas.
The Homeland Committee’s first impeachment hearing made clear that the basis for Secretary Mayorkas’ removal goes far beyond policy differences. In the coming weeks, the Committee will hold additional impeachment hearings and has extended an invitation to Mayorkas to testify, though a final date for that appearance has yet to be confirmed. Next week, the Committee will hold its second hearing on victims of the border crisis.
To learn more about the case against Secretary Mayorkas, click here.