Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fiercely defended himself against allegations of breaching the public’s trust and refusing to comply with the law in a withering letter sent to the Homeland Security Committee mere hours before the panel considers articles of impeachment against him.
Over more than six pages, Mayorkas rigorously defended his life’s work in public service and slammed the impeachment proceedings against him—the first targeting a Cabinet secretary in almost 150 years. “I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted,” Mayorkas wrote in the message, delivered early Tuesday.
“I will defer a discussion of the Constitutionality of your current effort to the many respected scholars and experts across the political spectrum who already have opined that it is contrary to law,” Mayorkas added.
The Homeland Security Committee will mark up a resolution accusing Mayorkas of committing high crimes and misdemeanors in his implementation of immigration policy.
Two articles of impeachment released over the weekend claimed Mayorkas “willfully and systemically refused to comply with the law” by permitting “catch and release scheme” that allows migrants to be released into the United States while awaiting court proceedings. The second alleges that he “knowingly made false statements, and knowingly obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland Security” about the security of the border.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said the articles lack “even a shred of evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors—the Constitutional standard for impeachment,” further alleging that his Republican colleagues are “abusing Congress’ impeachment power to appease their MAGA members.”
In his letter, Mayorkas said that he takes his responsibility to cooperate “in good faith” with congressional oversight “very seriously” and noted that he’d testified “publicly in 27 Congressional hearings” since becoming DHS secretary—“more than any other member of the Cabinet.” He also pointed out that he has “adhered scrupulously and fervently to the Oath of Office I have taken six times in my public service career.”
He added that he’s held a lifelong “reverence” for law enforcement, starting in his childhood as the son of Cuban immigrants. “My parents experienced such loss at the fisted hands of authoritarianism that the American law enforcement officer stood as a tangible symbol of safety and the rule of law in our new home,” he wrote.
Mayorkas also expressed support for the bipartisan border deal being negotiated in the Senate, saying it would “make a substantial difference at our border.” While House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has indicated he would reject the deal, he has vowed to bring the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the floor quickly. The Democrat-controlled Senate will likely acquit Mayorkas even if House Republicans secure an impeachment, potentially rendering the effort futile.
The point was not lost on the DHS, which earlier decried the “evidence-free” impeachment charges, accusing Republicans on the House panel of wanting to campaign on the border crisis rather than address it. “That’s why they have undermined efforts to achieve bipartisan solutions and ignored the facts, legal scholars and experts, and even the Constitution itself in their quest to baselessly impeach Secretary Mayorkas,” a DHS memo responding to the articles read.
“Whatever proceedings you initiate, however baseless, my responsiveness to oversight requests will not waiver,” Mayorkas wrote in his own letter.
In a statement to Axios, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-TN) said: “This 11th-hour response demonstrates the lack of seriousness with which Secretary Mayorkas views his responsibilities to Congress and to the American people.”