Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas found himself in the hot seat once again, Wednesday, July 26. The House Judiciary Committee held a fact-finding hearing to determine if the secretary should be impeached for his handling of the crisis at the southern border. Republicans accused Mayorkas of encouraging illegal immigration, lying to Congress, and undermining control of the border. Their eagerness to get rid of the secretary seems to have waned a bit, however, as the GOP may have bigger fish to fry. Can Mayorkas slip by if the House goes after Attorney General Merrick Garland or President Joe Biden himself – or would he be caught up in the net as well?
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chair of the committee, began the hearing with a warning about Mayorkas and his tendency to paint a prettier picture than reality. “I know that today Secretary Mayorkas is going to try to paint a rosy picture of this disastrous mismanagement of our border. But the numbers don’t lie.”
Although the number of apprehensions at the border went down in June, Republicans argue that is due more to the new Customs and Border Patrol app that streamlines the asylum process, potentially allowing around 1,400 a day to get an appointment before they even appear at a port of entry. Republicans also claim they have been asking for reports that still haven’t come. While the secretary claimed he didn’t have the specific numbers the committee asked him for, he promised to deliver the statements. “You say you’re gonna get back with this, but the history has not been too good on your part,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) said. “I think you’re the most dishonest witness that has ever appeared before the Judiciary Committee and I think I speak for a lot of my colleagues. This is such a frustrating exercise for us.”
Mayorkas Blamed for Fentanyl Deaths – Asked to Resign
It hasn’t just been people streaming across the border under his watch. Last year, 84% of the 14,104 pounds of fentanyl seized from the border were caught at ports of entry, according to government data. More than two-thirds (68%) out of the 107,081 drug overdose deaths in the US involved “synthetic opioids other than methadone, principally illicitly manufactured fentanyls,” according to the CDC. The National Safety Council also reported 67,325 fentanyl-related deaths in 2021, which represents a 26% increase from the 53,480 of 2020. It’s no wonder drug trafficking is a major concern for the committee – and they’re blaming Mayorkas for the increase.
“The fentanyl killing thousands of Americans every year is a direct result of your dereliction,” said Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). “When people die of fentanyl poisoning, it is your fault.” Mayorkas, however, testified that Americans were mostly to blame for the fentanyl trafficking. “I believe the data suggests that approximately 70% of the people who are arrested are US citizens,” he claimed.
“In my mind, this makes your actions criminal,” Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) said. “Secretary Mayorkas you must resign. Will you resign?” When the secretary said he would not, Van Drew responded that it “leaves us with no other option: You should be impeached.”
The Homeland Security Secretary argued his innocence and stood by his work. “Our approach to managing the borders securely and humanely — even within our fundamentally broken immigration system — is working,” he declared.
Republicans have been kicking around the idea of impeaching Mayoraks for a while. Now, however, it seems he may catch a break, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has hinted that Attorney General Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden – both considerably bigger targets – may be in the crosshairs.
No Cabinet member has ever been removed this way before, though Ulysses Grant’s secretary of war, William Belknap, came close after the Senate technically acquitted him by failing to reach a two-thirds threshold despite the majority voting to convict. The House of Representatives unanimously brought five articles of impeachment against Belknap in 1876 for “criminally disregarding his duty as Secretary of War and basely prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.” Could Mayorkas – or Garland – soon take Belknap’s place in history?
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