Homeland security secretary impeached over border policy

14 February 2024, 02:04

Super Bowl Football Mayorkas
Super Bowl Football Mayorkas. Picture: PA

President Joe Biden criticised ‘petty political games’ by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

President Joe Biden criticised “petty political games” after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was impeached by the House of Representatives.

The Republican majority, who secured a single-vote win after leader Steve Scalise returned from cancer treatment, is determined to punish Mr Biden’s administration over its handling of the Mexico border.

Mr Mayorkas is the first Cabinet secretary to face charges in nearly 150 years.

President Joe Biden said in a statement: “History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honourable public servant in order to play petty political games.”

Congress Mayorkas Impeachment
House Speaker Mike Johnson banging the gavel after he announced the House voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (House Television/AP)

Mr Mayorkas faced two articles of impeachment filed by the Homeland Security Committee arguing that he “willfully and systematically” refused to enforce existing immigration laws and that he breached the public trust by lying to Congress and saying the border was secure.

Critics of the impeachment effort said the charges against Mr Mayorkas amount to a policy dispute over Mr Biden’s border policy.

The House had initially launched an impeachment inquiry into the president over his son’s business dealings, but turned its attention to Mr Mayorkas after former president Donald Trump’s ally Marjorie Taylor Greene pushed the debate forward following the panel’s months-long investigation.

The charges against Mr Mayorkas would next go to the Senate for a trial, but neither Democratic nor Republican senators have shown interest in the matter and it may be indefinitely shelved to a committee.

Border security has shot to the top of campaign issues with Mr Trump, the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination, insisting he will launch “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history” if he retakes the White House.

Congress Mayorkas Impeachment
The vote total after the House voted to impeach Mr Mayorkas (House Television/AP)

Various House Republicans have prepared legislation to begin deporting migrants who were temporarily allowed into the US under Mr Biden administration’s policies, many as they await adjudication of asylum claims.

“We have no choice,” Mr Trump said in stark language at a weekend rally in South Carolina.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson rejected a bipartisan Senate border security package but has been unable to advance Republicans’ own proposal which is a nonstarter in the Senate.

House Republicans have filed legislation to impeach a long list including Vice President Kamala Harris, Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI director Christopher Wray and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Never before has a sitting Cabinet secretary been impeached and it was nearly 150 years ago that the House voted to impeach president Ulysses S Grant’s secretary of war William Belknap over a kickback scheme in government contracts. He resigned before the vote.

By Press Association

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