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Articles of impeachment filed against Biden DHS secretary

By Sarah May
|
January 11, 2023

Amid Republican pledges to prioritize the crisis at the nation's southern border in the new Congress, Texas GOP Rep. Pat Fallon filed articles of impeachment this week against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as The Hill reports.

Fallon vowed to pursue the secretary's removal earlier this month – even before the lower chamber began taking up official business, and the formal articles themselves were officially filed on Monday.

Impeachment articles filed

In seeking to initiate the impeachment of Mayorkas, Fallon accused the Cabinet official of “high crimes and misdemeanors” related to his handling of the unprecedented surge of migrants seen during the Biden administration's first two years.

According to NBC News, the congressman explained his rationale for the move, saying, “It is unfortunate that we have gotten to this point, but it is necessary.”

“Secretary Mayorkas's potential impeachment is not an accident. He has willfully abdicated his duties as Secretary of Homeland Security and actively misled Congress and the American people,” Fallon contended. “To make any progress at our southern border, he must go.”

“Pattern of conduct”

The articles of impeachment filed by Fallon on Monday outline a series of alleged failures by Mayorkas in executing his statutory duty to “maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States.”

Specifically, Fallon says that since Mayorkas took the helm at DHS, more than 5,500,000 illegal immigrants have crossed the southern border of the U.S., adding that the secretary's tenure has seen a staggering 180% rise in border encounters when compared with data from the Trump years.

Further, the articles noted that in the 2022 fiscal year, 98 individuals on the Terrorist Screening Database were stopped at the southern border, with over 100 apprehended since Mayorkas' appointment.

The filing details numerous other acts and omissions on Mayorkas' part that Fallon says amount to violations of the law that have “gravely endangered the national security of the United States” and warrant “impeachment, trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit within the United States Federal Government.”

Fallon also included articles related to allegedly false congressional testimony from Mayorkas related to the state of control at the border and what the lawmaker described as conduct in which the secretary “slandered his own hardworking Border Patrol agents” in an incident involving Haitian migrants erroneous claims that whips were used to disperse them.

McCarthy's dilemma

The articles introduced by Fallon have now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for potential further action, as Fox News noted. And though they will not be able to proceed without the acquiescence of Republican House leadership, new Speaker Kevin McCarthy has in the past signaled at least some openness to the prospect of impeachment.

As the Associated Press reported back in November following the Republicans' success in retaking control of the House, McCarthy issued a formal call for Mayorkas' resignation over repeated failures to ensure border security.

At that time, McCarthy declared that the GOP would utilize “the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena” to obtain accountability for the migrant influx that has overwhelmed the border since President Joe Biden took office.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign,” McCarthy said, “House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure to determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry.”

Those endeavors, McCarthy noted, “could lead to an impeachment inquiry, and he said that he had already initiated coordination with the incoming leaders of the Oversight and Judiciary Committees, pledging his “full support” to any probes they might decide to launch, though he has continued to walk a fine line when it comes to actually calling for impeachment proceedings.

Mayorkas standing firm

Despite Republican warnings regarding impeachment, Mayorkas has maintained a posture of resolve when it comes to staying at the helm of DHS, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulous on Sunday, according to Politico, “I've got a lot of work to do, and we're going to do it.”

Marsha Espinosa, assistant secretary for public affairs at DHS, underscored that point on Tuesday and denied that any resignations were in the offing, saying, “Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.”

Though it is far from certain that Fallon's articles will gain traction in the House Judiciary Committee or beyond, it is quite clear that the new majority in the chamber is striving to make good on its promises to make issues of border security a top priority in the new legislative session.