US Republicans initiated impeachment proceedings on Wednesday against Joe Biden’s Homeland Security Chief, Alejandro Mayorkas, attributing the intensifying border crisis as the reason. The Republicans aim to position immigration as a pivotal issue in the upcoming November presidential election.
The crisis has seen up to 10,000 migrants detained daily after illegally crossing from Mexico, prompting Republicans to label it a humanitarian disaster. Despite ongoing discussions between the White House and lawmakers, there has been a failure to reach consensus on reforms to curb the influx.
House Homeland Security Committee chairman Mark Green, who concluded a probe into Mayorkas in December, accuses the Democrat of creating a national security emergency. Green stated, “Our investigation made clear that this crisis finds its foundation in Secretary Mayorkas’ decision-making and refusal to enforce the laws passed by Congress.”
If Mayorkas were to be impeached, he would be the first Cabinet official to face such action since Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. However, garnering enough votes for impeachment poses a challenge, given the narrow majority of just two votes in the House Republican majority.
Speaker Mike Johnson sought to rally support by taking around 60 members to the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, to tour a border patrol facility and engage with locals. Even if an impeachment vote passes the House, a conviction in the Senate seems unlikely with 51 out of 100 members being Democrats.
The impeachment proceedings come at a crucial time for President Biden, who is already facing a Republican-led impeachment inquiry over unproven corruption allegations. Biden’s handling of immigration has been a significant weakness, reflected in low approval ratings, with only 38 percent of registered voters approving in a December Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll.
Despite the Department of Homeland Security dismissing the impeachment effort as a “political exercise,” the proceedings could complicate matters for Biden in an election year. The announcement coincides with ongoing talks between the White House and senators from both parties on border security and asylum reforms.
Negotiations aim to tighten rules for asylum seekers and expand expedited removals, with Republicans linking aid to Ukraine to the passage of an immigration bill. However, challenges persist as both sides hold different stances on the proposed reforms, potentially prolonging the resolution of the border crisis.