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Why House Republicans Want to Impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas This Week

Only one Cabinet secretary has ever been impeached by the House of Representatives, in 1876

Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images Alejandro Mayorkas
Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images Alejandro Mayorkas

House Republicans has revealed two articles of impeachment against Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of border security and illegal immigration.

The House Committee on Homeland Security released a 20-page resolution on Sunday that accused Mayorkas of willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and breach of public trust. The impeachment resolution comes as the Biden administration is getting stonewalled by House Republicans in its attempts to strike a bipartisan border deal.

Since Mayorkas took office, Republicans have criticized his handling of the southern border, largely blaming him for a spike in apprehensions at the border and an increase of illegal drugs smuggled across it.

Related: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Announces Impeachment Inquiry into President Joe Biden

Republicans have also been critical of Mayorkas' attempts to undo some Trump-era immigration rules, including the Migrant Protection Protocols, which requires those who arrive at the southern border seeking asylum to go back to Mexico and remain there until their immigration court date.

According to the American Immigration Council, the program (which went into effect in January 2019) "was used to send nearly 70,000 migrants back to Mexico before it was suspended, and then terminated, after President Biden took office."

In August 2021, a federal court in Texas ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reinstate the program.

<p>Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty</p> DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas arrives to testify during a Senate hearing on Oct. 31, 2023

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas arrives to testify during a Senate hearing on Oct. 31, 2023

Legal experts aren't convinced, however, that there's evidence for an impeachment of Mayorkas. Speaking at an impeachment hearing held earlier this month, University of Missouri School of Law professor Frank Bowman said the issue is one of how executive authority is being exercised — disputes about which are commonplace.

"Every president wins some and loses others," Bowman said, per ABC News. "If the mere existence of such disputes were impeachable, every president and every Cabinet officer would be impeachable many times over."

In its own memo, the Department of Homeland Security called the move to impeach Mayorkas a "farce," adding, "Republicans have failed to provide any legitimate Constitutional grounds for impeachment according to countless legal experts of diverse political views, House Republicans’ own prior impeachment witness, and their fellow GOP Members."

DHS added that the Biden administration has "removed, returned, or expelled more migrants in three years" than the Trump administration did in all of its four years.

<p>SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty</p> President Joe Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speak at the FEMA headquarters on Aug. 31, 2023

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

President Joe Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speak at the FEMA headquarters on Aug. 31, 2023

The House committee plans to meet Tuesday morning to mark up the drafted articles, and if they are passed through the committee, House Speaker Mike Johnson has promised a swift impeachment vote on the House floor.

If the Republican-controlled House does vote to impeach Mayorkas, it would then be up to the Democratic-led Senate on whether to convict him — a move that's unlikely.

Related: On Day 1 of Impeachment Inquiry, Republican Witness Says 'Current Evidence' Doesn't Support Impeaching

In U.S. history, only one Cabinet secretary has ever been impeached by the House — President Ulysses S. Grant's secretary of war, William W. Belknap, in 1876. Belknap, who was caught in a corruption scandal, resigned just before his impeachment and was acquitted in the Senate.

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The Mayorkas impeachment comes amid a separate Republican-led inquiry into a potential impeachment of President Joe Biden.

Former Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced in September that the party would be launching an impeachment inquiry into Biden, accusing the president of using "his official office to coordinate with" his son Hunter Biden's various business dealings.

Hunter has already been charged for alleged tax crimes related to his foreign business interests, though no evidence has implicated the president.

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