The initiative of Republican congressmen to impeach U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has failed. In a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, the unprecedented motion was rejected by a margin of two votes, 214 in favor to 216 against.
Four Republicans joined the Democrats in rejecting the charges against the Biden administration’s immigration policymaker: “Willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” on immigration and a “breach of the public trust.” The outcome represents a resounding slap in the face for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who shortly before the vote had declared that he had enough votes to move the initiative forward.
Democratic lawmakers, constitutional experts and Mayorkas’ predecessors in office had condemned the measure, accusing Republicans of wanting to turn what was only a political difference of opinion into a legal matter. They also claimed that there was no indication that the Secretary of Homeland Security had committed the kind of treason or felony for which the U.S. Constitution reserves impeachment.
The Democrats denounced, moreover, that the initiative was mere posturing: even if the impeachment trial had gone ahead in the House, it had no chance of being approved in the Senate, where the Democrats hold a majority. It is the first time that an impeachment trial has been attempted against a member of a presidential team in the United States in nearly 150 years.
Immigration has become one of the major campaign issues in the run-up to November’s presidential elections in view of the increase in the number of irregular migrant arrivals. Last year broke records for illegal entries: 2.4 million people, 14% more than the previous year. In December, the Border Patrol apprehended nearly 250,000 people trying to cross the border illegally, the highest number in decades.
Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, one of those who voted against the measure, stated during the debate on the bill that Mayorkas “is guilty of maladministration of our immigration laws on a cosmic scale.” But at the same time, he noted that in itself that does not supply sufficient grounds for impeachment, “because the American Founders specifically rejected it,” adding the Constitution is not to be wielded in “political fights.”
The failure of the motion came on the same day that Republicans appeared to have defeated a bill in the Senate that sought to solve the problem for which they accuse Mayorkas of inaction: border control. That bill, the contents of which were disclosed Sunday, toughened immigration control measures in addition to including a nearly $120 billion appropriation for aid to Ukraine and Israel, among other allocations. Republicans in the House had proposed, in turn, another bill that provided assistance to Israel but not to Kyiv. That measure was also rejected by 250 votes against to 180 in favor.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security lambasted the “baseless and unconstitutional” attempt to depose its head. “House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain, rather than working to solve the serious challenges at our border,” said Department spokeswoman Mia Ehrenberg.
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