House Republicans are moving ahead with impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they call his “willful and systematic” refusal to enforce U.S. immigration laws. Here’s how we got here and what it means.
Who is Alejandro Mayorkas?
Mayorkas, 64, was born in Havana and came to the United States as a 1-year-old when his family fled Cuba. He has served as secretary of Homeland Security since February 2021. He was nominated by then President-elect Joe Biden in November 2020 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 56-43 vote. Previously, Mayorkas served as director of U.S. citizenship and immigration services and deputy Homeland Security secretary under President Barack Obama.
Who is seeking to impeach him?
House Republicans, led by far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, who has made repeated efforts to force an impeachment vote, and Republican Rep. Mark Green, of Tennessee, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, voted Tuesday to advance two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas out of the committee.
Why do they want to impeach him?
Republicans in the House allege that Mayorkas has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” for failing to enforce U.S. immigration policies along the southern border, allowing for a record surge of illegal crossings in recent months.
“The facts are indisputable — for three years, Secretary Mayorkas has willfully and systemically refused to comply with the laws enacted by Congress, and he has breached the public trust,” Green said in a statement. His actions created this unprecedented crisis, turning every state into a border state.
“As a result, thousands of Americans have lost their lives and our nation is experiencing a historic national security, public safety, and humanitarian catastrophe,” Green added. “Make no mistake, Secretary Mayorkas’ lawlessness is exactly what the Framers of our Constitution designed impeachment to remedy.”
The panel voted 18-15 along party lines to advance the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. A full House vote on Mayorkas’s impeachment is expected next week.
What has Mayorkas said?
Ahead of Tuesday's panel vote, Mayorkas sent a seven-page letter to the committee calling the effort to impeach him “baseless.”
“I will defer a discussion of Constitutionality of your current effort to the many respected scholars and experts across the political spectrum who already have opined it is contrary to law,” Mayorkas wrote. “What I will not defer to others is a response to the politically motivated accusations and personal attacks you have made against me.”
Mayorkas added that the “false accusations” made by the committee “do not” rattle him and “do not” divert him “from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted.”
How likely is it to happen?
Since grabbing control of the House in 2023, Republicans have pushed to impeach Mayorkas.
The chamber is currently made up of 219 Republicans and 213 Democrats, meaning the GOP has little room for error when the impeachment resolution comes up for a vote.
According to Punchbowl News, just two Republicans — Reps. Tom McClintock, of California, and Ken Buck, of Colorado — are leaning “no” on the vote to impeach Mayorkas. Buck was among eight House Republicans who joined Democrats in November in voting to punt Greene’s impeachment resolution to the House Homeland Security Committee.
If he is impeached by the House, then what happens?
If the House does vote to impeach Mayorkas, the charges would next go to the Democratic-controlled Senate, which would conduct an impeachment trial.
No Cabinet official has been impeached in nearly 150 years. According to the Associated Press, the last time was in 1876, when the House impeached Defense Secretary William Belknap over kickbacks in government contracts. The Senate later acquitted him in a trial.
What else to know
Business Insider: Republicans might not have the votes to impeach Mayorkas