WASHINGTON – House Democrats stood up for U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, while Republicans pushed for his impeachment during a hearing Jan. 18.
The hearing was the second scheduled by Republicans to gather evidence against Mayorkas, but Democrats called it “Sham Impeachment ‘Hearing’ #2.” The committee held a markup of the impeachment legislation on Jan. 30, and the full House vote could occur as soon as next week.
Although an ouster of Mayorkas was very unlikely, the impeachment proceedings against him underscored Republicans’ anger towards President Joe Biden and his border policies.
Mayorkas had testified 27 times in 35 months, more than any other current Cabinet member, but said he was unable to attend the hearing because he was meeting with Mexican officials to discuss the border. But Republicans criticized his absence, with Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., saying Mayorkas “plays games.”
Republicans invited two grieving mothers who blamed their children’s deaths on Mayorkas’ border policies.
Josephine Dunn, whose daughter Ashley died of a fentanyl overdose, expressed disappointment over his absence. She stated that she viewed Mayorkas as partially responsible for her daughter’s death because of his border enforcement, which she believed allowed for fentanyl to be illegally brought into the U.S.
“My family is broken, my heart is broken, and he couldn’t even be here to face me today,” said Dunn.
In the prior hearings, Democrats were allowed one witness while the Republican majority was allotted three.
Ranking Member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., argued that Republicans had broken the rules for impeachments because they failed to allow Democrats to organize a hearing as required under House Rule 11.
“Under impeachment precedent, separate and apart from this particular hearing, the minority is allowed to have a hearing of its own choice and its own witnesses,” said Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y. “If this is going to be an impeachment process, then there have to be rights and due process afforded to the individual who is being impeached.”
The Democrats’ witness argued that, based on her knowledge of constitutional law, there was no basis to impeach Mayorkas and if Congress opposes his border policies, it should instead pass new legislation.
“Impeachment will have no impact on resources available to the border. It will have no impact on the policies pursued by this administration at all,” said Deborah Pearlstein, a visiting professor in law and public affairs at Princeton University.
Although a majority of the House was expected to vote to impeach Mayorkas, the Senate would be unlikely to vote to convict, which would be necessary to force his removal.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., questioned if President Biden should be impeached instead. She argued that if Mayorkas was not to blame, then Biden’s border policies had led to the deaths of Americans.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be having hearings on my articles of impeachment to impeach Secretary Mayorkas,” said Taylor Greene. “Maybe we should be holding Articles of Impeachment on the President of the United States. Is that where we’re going?”