Jan 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mayorkas mounts 11th-hour defense against GOP impeachment effort

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is defending himself from Republicans in a sweeping letter sent hours before the House Homeland Security Committee considers historic articles of impeachment against him.

Why it matters: Mayorkas, who details his long career in law enforcement, would be the first cabinet member to be impeached in nearly 150 years. But Republicans have made him their border bogeyman.

  • "I assure you that your false accusations do not rattle me and do not divert me from the law enforcement and broader public service mission to which I have devoted most of my career and to which I remain devoted," Mayorkas wrote in the letter sent early Tuesday.

The details: Over more than six pages, Mayorkas touts his agency's sharp increase in migrant deportations since May, highlights efforts to combat criminal trafficking networks and details his life-long respect for law enforcement — beginning as a child of Cuban immigrants.

  • "My parents experienced such loss at the fisted hands of authoritarianism that the American law enforcement officer stood as a tangible symbol of safety and the rule of law in our new home," he wrote.
  • He also promotes the bipartisan border deal being finalized in the Senate, saying it would "make a substantial difference at our border."

Between the lines: The committee led by Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) has accused Mayorkas of resisting their invitations to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry.

  • Earlier this month, Mayorkas agreed to testify at an impeachment hearing, but asked the committee to work with DHS to find a time he was available. That never happened.
  • "You did not respond to my request, changed course, and instead invited me to submit written testimony. Two days later, you issued a statement representing that every member of the Committee's majority already had rendered their decision," Mayorkas wrote in the Tuesday letter.
  • "This 11th-hour response demonstrates the lack of seriousness with which Secretary Mayorkas views his responsibilities to Congress and to the American people," Green said in a statement, saying he would have preferred Mayorkas "accept our multiple invitations extended to him since last August to appear before us in person."

What he's saying: "I will defer a discussion of the Constitutionality of your current effort to the many respected scholars and experts across the political spectrum who already have opined that it is contrary to law," Mayorkas wrote.

  • "What I will not defer to others is a response to the politically motivated accusations and personal attacks you have made against me," he continued.

Zoom in: The articles of impeachment charge Mayorkas with "willfully and systemically refused to comply" with immigration laws and breaching public trust by knowingly making false statements to Congress.

  • They have also repeatedly charged DHS for not cooperating with congressional oversight.
  • Democrats have decried the impeachment effort as a "sham" and "abuse of power," charging Republicans for trying to stretch policy disagreements into high crimes and misdemeanors.

The bottom line: Mayorkas said the claims that his agency has not been responsive to House investigators are "baseless and inaccurate."

  • He claimed he has appeared before Congress more than any other Cabinet member —testifying in 27 hearings, including seven before the very committee now moving to impeach him.
  • "Whatever proceedings you initiate, however baseless, my responsiveness to oversight requests will not waiver," he added.
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