Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday issued a scathing report accusing DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of being “intentionally” derelict in his duty to the country as he implemented a “radical open-borders agenda.”
Chairman Mark Green launched an investigation into Mayorkas’ ‘dereliction of duty’ earlier this year amid a barrage of criticism of how the administration has handled the border crisis now into its third year. There were more than 1.7 million encounters in FY 2021 and more than 2.4 million in FY 2022. Numbers have been similarly high in FY 2023, but have recently seen a drop in May and June.
In the interim report published on Wednesday evening, the report accuses the DHS secretary of “undoing effective policy” of implementing an “open-borders” policy agenda and of ignoring nearly a dozen laws passed by Congress.
“On top of these failures to uphold the law and fulfill his oath of office, Mayorkas has willfully undermined the sacred foundation of our constitutional republic—the separation of powers. He has rejected his responsibility to enforce the laws passed by Congress, and he has refused to respect rulings by the federal judiciary,” it finds.
The report says that it is not just a question of policy differences, and says that policies must have foundations “in the laws passed by Congress, and work to the benefit of the American people.”
“This cannot be said to be true of Mayorkas’ actions and policies as DHS secretary. It is, therefore, the solemn conclusion of this Committee that Mayorkas has been derelict in his duty, and that this dereliction has been intentional,” it says.
The report levels dozens of accusations against the secretary, arguing that he abused humanitarian parole to expand it well beyond the “case by case” basis laid out in law, while ignoring court orders to re-implement Trump-era policies and of “flouting” requirements for detention of illegal immigrants.
It accuses him of canceling “effective” policies including border wall construction, Title 42 and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), while implementing policies that it says are “actively benefiting” illegal immigrants. Specifically, it points to narrowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance, that coincided with plummeting deportations, increased use of catch-and-release and “irresponsible rhetoric.”
“Mayorkas is required to remove illegal aliens, but under his leadership and policies, removals by ICE have hit historic lows, and the targets set by his department continue to drop,” it says. “He has even told ICE agents that an alien’s unlawful presence in the country is no longer sufficient grounds to remove them, despite the clear language of the law saying otherwise. He has even flouted the orders of a co-equal branch of government, refusing to fully and faithfully comply with a federal court order requiring him to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols.”
The report marks the latest in a relentless hammering of the secretary by Republicans in both chambers — some of whom have called for his impeachment. Green has held off from endorsing such a move at this point, saying the committee is not there yet.
“My mission as the chairman of [the committee] is ‘get to the facts.’ So we’re not talking about that. We’re not using that word. Every single thing we’re going to look at, every rock we’re going to look under is to find the facts,” he said in June to Fox News Digital. “And the facts, I think, are going to show that he has disregarded the laws passed by Congress, subverted those laws, been dishonest to Congress and the American people, among many, many other things. And we’re just going to get to the bottom of all that.”
The Biden administration pushed back, pointing to a sharp drop in encounters at the border since the end of the Title 42 public health order in May — despite widespread predictions that it would be followed by an increase in apprehensions. Numbers in June show 144,000 migrant encounters for the month, which is the lowest number since February 2001, although still high compared to pre-2021 numbers. Officials have also highlighted that it removed more individuals in FY 2022 via Title 8 and Title 42 than in any other fiscal year to refute claims of “open border” policies.
The administration has tied the drop in encounters to measures it put into place when Title 42 ended in May, including a significant and historic expansion of the use of parole to expand lawful immigration pathways — combined with an asylum rule which limits migrants from claiming asylum if they enter illegally and fail to claim asylum at a country through which they already passed. That rule is currently facing legal challenges from both left-wing activity groups and GOP-led states. DHS officials have also pointed to statements Mayorkas has made in which he has repeatedly stressed that the U.S. is a “nation of laws.”
“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of the Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people,” a DHS spokesperson said on Wednesday. ”The Department will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border, protect the United States from terrorism, and improve our cybersecurity, all while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.”
“Instead of pointing fingers and pursuing a baseless impeachment, Congress should work with the Department and pass comprehensive legislation to fix our broken immigration system, which has not been updated in decades,” the spokesperson said.
Democrats on the committee were also critical of the report.
“Since Extreme MAGA Republicans predetermined months ago they would impeach Secretary Mayorkas, they have been busy trying to manufacture so-called ‘evidence’ to do so,” Ranking Member Bennie Thompson said in a statement. “But their cooked-up narrative is not reality.”
“I realize Republicans have been counting on chaos on border for months and are now panicking that the Administration policies are working, but there is no valid basis for impeachment. Any attempt to do so would be a sham. We’re here to serve the American people, not right-wing special interests in Washington,” he said.
There is no sign, however, that the scrutiny of the secretary will cease any time soon. The report published Wednesday is only the interim report of the first phase of the investigation, with the second phase already underway.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week at which Mayorkas will be present — and will likely face a grilling from Republicans over the border crisis.