Republicans to hold first hearing in move to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas

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(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans are moving ahead with impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as they continue to make immigration a key 2024 campaign issue.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday will hold its first hearing after a yearlong probe to examine what they are calling the secretary’s “failed leadership” as the southwest border experienced a surge of migrants.

Chairman Mark Green, R-Ga., during a GOP visit to a Texas port of entry last week, accused Mayorkas of having “broken his oath to defend this country” and called him a threat to national security.

Mayorkas defended the administration’s work in his own visit to the Eagle Pass, Texas, entry point on Monday. He said the department’s taken “bold, necessary steps” while Congress has yet to pass legislation.

“Some have accused DHS of not enforcing our nation’s laws,” he said. “This could not be further from the truth.”

Witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing will include attorneys general of Montana, Oklahoma and Missouri. The three Republican state officials have voiced criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the border.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson blasted the hearing as a “political exercise” at taxpayers’ expense.

“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News.

Migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border reached a record high in December. Sources told ABC News preliminary data showed there were 302,000 encounters last month.

Border Patrol apprehensions have decreased from the historic level, with agents apprehending about 3,244 migrants daily over the past week, according to internal data obtained and verified by ABC News. This past Sunday, agents recorded 2,729 apprehensions, a sharp decline from the two-decade record of nearly 11,000 in a single day last month.

House Republicans used a trip to the border last week to double down on their demands for tougher immigration restrictions as negotiations continue on a supplemental aid package focused on national security.

President Joe Biden last year laid out a package that included nearly $14 billion for the border to hire more agents and immigration judge teams, while also providing aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. But Republicans are tying the foreign aid to more sweeping legislative changes when it comes to immigration, such as more restrictive asylum guidelines.

“If President Biden wants a supplemental spending bill focused on national security, it better begin by defending America’s national security,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said.

A group of senators have been working for weeks on finding compromise, and Congress returned to Washington this week after holiday recess. But disagreements over parole provisions has led to increasing pessimism that a deal can be struck by week’s end.

I just don’t see any way to be able to get that done this week,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said late Monday. “There’s a lot more that needs to get done. It starts speeding up, and they you hit a point that you realize now this is going a whole lot slower.”

Mayorkas has been involved in the negotiations, and said Monday the department needs more Border Patrol agents, case prosecutors, asylum officers and technology to combat the flow of fentanyl.

“We now need Congress to do their part and act,” he said. “Our immigration system is outdated and broken and has been in need of reform for literally decades. On this, everyone agrees.”

Mayorkas has long been a target of Republican ire over the border. The House GOP effort to oust him would be the first potential impeachment of a Cabinet official since Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876, though it’s unlikely Mayorkas would be convicted in a trial in the Democrat-led Senate.

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