What are the grounds for initiating impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas? Understanding the Efforts of the House

On February 2, 2024, the House GOP voted to advance the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his role in the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border situation. If successful, this would be only the second time in U.S. history that a Cabinet secretary has been impeached, and the first in nearly 150 years. Here is a breakdown of the events leading up to this decision and what it means for Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security.

Who is Alejandro Mayorkas?

Alejandro Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba in 1959 and came to the U.S. as a political refugee in 1960. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. After working in private practice, he became a federal prosecutor in California and later served as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration. In 2021, he was confirmed as President Biden’s top immigration official, making him the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the department.

Why is Mayorkas being impeached?

The impeachment effort against Mayorkas stems from the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, with Republicans accusing him of failing to enforce immigration laws and detain thousands of migrants. Last year, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia attempted to force a vote on impeaching Mayorkas, but House leaders referred the matter to the House Homeland Security Committee. The committee held two hearings this month, featuring testimony from attorneys general and mothers who blamed Mayorkas for the deaths of their children due to what they see as failures in managing the southern border. This week, the committee released and advanced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, with a potential floor vote in the House expected in the coming days.

What are the arguments for and against impeachment?

Republicans argue that Mayorkas is violating immigration laws, particularly a statute from the 1990s that requires the federal government to detain certain migrants. Democrats and the Department of Homeland Security argue that Mayorkas is following the law and that the surge of migrants at the border is a result of long-standing issues that require comprehensive immigration reform. The decision to impeach Mayorkas ultimately rests with the House, and if successful, the Senate would hold a trial to determine whether to remove him from his position.  

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