Originally Published: 03 JAN 24 08:27 ET
Updated: 03 JAN 24 12:09 ET
By Lauren Fox, Priscilla Alvarez and Michael Williams, CNN
(CNN) — House Republicans will forge ahead with steps to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the border crisis, a GOP source tells CNN.
In a statement provided to CNN, a committee spokesperson said “the House Committee on Homeland Security has conducted a comprehensive investigation into Secretary Mayorkas’ handling of, and role in, the unprecedented crisis at the Southwest border” for nearly a year.
“Following the bipartisan vote in the House to refer articles of impeachment against the secretary to our Committee, we will be conducting hearings and taking up those articles in the coming weeks,” the statement said.
The announcement of the impeachment proceedings comes as immigration is shaping up to be a top issue in the 2024 presidential election, with Republicans slamming President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. On Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, along with some of his Republican colleagues, will visit one of the busiest sections of the US-Mexico border, where only a few days ago border authorities wrestled with a fresh surge of migrants.
In response to Johnson’s scheduled visit, a senior administration official accused the House Speaker of “playing games” and said he should “stop playing politics” instead of working to pass meaningful reforms.
It’s part of a long-running dispute between Republicans and the Biden administration over the handling of the southern border that’s culminated in impeachment proceedings against the DHS chief who’s charged with border security.
The committee spokesperson told CNN the hearing will begin next week. “The Committee will ensure that the public is aware of the scope of Secretary Mayorkas’ egregious misconduct and refusal to enforce the law, but also that this process is completed promptly and accountability is achieved swiftly—as the American people have demanded,” the statement said.
The Department of Homeland Security responded in a statement Wednesday, arguing House Republicans are “pursuing a baseless political exercise that has been rejected by members of both parties and already failed on a bipartisan vote.”
“There is no valid basis to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, as senior members of the House majority have attested, and this extreme impeachment push is a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities,” DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said.
“Secretary Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security will continue working every day to keep Americans safe.”
Mayorkas sought to downplay concerns about an impeachment on Wednesday, but advocated strongly for funding for border security, warning that his department does not have the resources “to perform our jobs as fully and completely as we could.”
Despite reaching an all-time high in border crossings in December, senior administration officials on Tuesday underscored progress, citing a drop in crossings in recent days, but cautioned that migration ebbs and flows.
On Monday, border authorities encountered around 2,500 migrants at the US southern border—a dramatic drop from mid-December when arrests topped 10,000, according to a senior administration official.
Fewer than 500 migrants were apprehended in the Del Rio sector, which was slammed with thousands of arrivals in late December.
Officials cited a doubling down on enforcement by Mexico on trains and buses, which migrants often use to quickly get to the US southern border, decongestion of Mexico’s northern border, and repatriations of Venezuelans to Venezuela by Mexico, among other measures.
The moment, however, underscores how complicated it will be for any agreement on a border deal to get through the House. Mayorkas has been a key player in bipartisan Senate talks.
“We need additional personnel to advance our security at the border. We need technology to advance our fight against fentanyl. We need additional asylum officers to really accelerate the asylum adjudication process,” he said during an appearance on “CNN This Morning,” pointing to a building backlog of 3 million immigration court cases.
Asked by CNN’s Phil Mattingly whether an impeachment effort would complicate any efforts to pass a border deal, Mayorkas said, “I certainly hope not.”
The latest development comes after the House voted in November to refer a resolution to impeach Mayorkas to the Homeland Security Committee in a 209-201 vote, with eight Republicans voting with Democrats.
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia filed a privileged resolution to impeach Mayorkas in November, forcing GOP leadership to schedule floor action on the measure.
Since retaking the House majority, Republicans have long sought to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the Department of Homeland Security and the US border with Mexico. Greene’s move came as Republicans have been pushing for stricter border security provisions in any supplemental aid package.
The GOP fight is also playing out on the state level. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas last month signed a law that gives local law enforcement the authority to arrest migrants – an authority that typically falls under the purview of the federal government.
The Department of Justice said the Texas measure violated the US Constitution, and threatened to sue to stop Abbott from enforcing the law, which would take effect in March.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.
™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.
**This image is for use with this specific article only** US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a US Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on November 8, 2023.
Stefani Raynolds/AFP/Getty Images
03 Jan 24