The crisis that has unfolded over the past two years on our southwest border has had far-reaching and deadly consequences.
Regardless of one’s opinions about illegal immigration or immigration reform, we should all agree that the suffering and devastation it has caused, for Americans and migrants alike, demands accountability.
Through the power of impeachment, the Constitution provides it.
Previous generations have typically refrained from wielding that power in all but the most egregious cases. Sadly, the actions of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demand that Congress take this rare step.
Impeachment was not designed to settle political scores or policy differences. It is reserved for holding public officials accountable when they violate the law, abuse the power of their office or are dishonest with the American people or Congress.
Our colleagues at The Heritage Foundation recently laid out a clear and compelling legal case for Mayorkas’s impeachment along these lines.
First, he has deliberately defied many of the laws he is supposed to execute.
For example, Mayorkas has violated numerous provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which governs much of U.S. immigration law. He has instructed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to mass-parole illegal immigrants into the country, in violation of the statute that dictates parole is to be granted “temporarily” and “only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has even stated that DHS cannot mass parole immigrants into the country, but Mayorkas has expanded the practice.
DHS’s newest parole program alone will admit as many as 360,000 Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans per year, clearly violating the statute. The most significant effect of these parole policies has been the mass release of individuals into the country who would otherwise have no legitimate claim to enter.
This has encouraged widespread abuse of the asylum system, which has been a driving force behind the crisis, incentivizing millions of individuals to make the journey in hopes of filing a claim and gaining release into the U.S. All this despite data showing that around 90 percent of those claiming asylum do not get relief.
Mayorkas has further defied duly passed laws by restricting Immigration and Customs Enforcement from deporting individuals in the U.S. illegally. His own guidance even dictates that an individual’s presence in the country illegally “should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.”
Second, Mayorkas has abused the power of his office. Through his unlawful policies, he has encouraged millions of individuals to cross the border illegally, most of whom place themselves in the vicious hands of the drug cartels to do so.
He has made clear that anyone who makes a “credible fear” asylum claim, legitimate or not, will be released into the U.S., knowingly encouraging and facilitating widespread asylum fraud. Mayorkas is a veteran DHS official who knows the data on these claims and yet continues to look the other way, allowing the system to be exploited.
And he has authorized the use of taxpayer funds to transport illegal immigrants throughout the country, often under the cover of darkness, effectively completing the cartels’ work by ferrying individuals from the border to their final destination.
Third, he has repeatedly lied about his policies and their consequences. In March 2021, he told Fox News, “The border is secure, the border is closed.” In July 2022, he told the Aspen Security Forum, “Look, the border is secure.” On Nov. 15, 2022, he told the House Homeland Security Committee the same thing.
He has even told Congress that DHS maintains “operational control of the border.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recorded more than 5.5 million encounters since Joe Biden took office. Another 1.2 million “got-aways” have evaded Border Patrol altogether and are now at large in the U.S. Among them are violent criminals, including murders, pedophiles, gang members and drug dealers. Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans 18-45.
As Border Patrol agents are pulled off the line to process the historic flows of illegal immigrants, large areas of our nation’s borders are increasingly vulnerable for the cartels to exploit. CBP has recovered more than 1,500 dead migrants on U.S. soil on Biden’s watch, another ghastly record.
No objective person would continue to claim the border is secure. DHS does not have operational control. Mayorkas knows this.
Finally, he has knowingly misled the public about the conduct of his own agents who were falsely accused of “whipping” Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.
Mayorkas’s actions have directly contributed to a historic border crisis, the consequences of which continue to affect every city and state in the country.
His “high crimes and misdemeanors” are “acts committed by public officials, using their power or privileges, that inflicted grave harm on our political order.” That’s the definition from the House Judiciary Committee’s 2019 impeachment of former President Trump. That standard certainly applies today.
The case is compelling. The Constitution provides the means. Our public conscience demands accountability.
This piece originally appeared in The Hill on 3/13/23