House Impeaches Biden's DHS Head Over Border Crisis

Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (Getty Images)
February 13, 2024

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday narrowly voted to impeach President Joe Biden's top border official, accusing him of lax policies that encouraged illegal immigration.

By a vote of 214-213, the House approved two articles of impeachment accusing Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of not enforcing U.S. immigration laws, which Republicans argue led to record flows of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, and making false statements to Congress.

It came a week after a similar vote failed in a legislative defeat for Speaker Mike Johnson. Republican representative Steve Scalise, who had been receiving treatment for cancer, was not present for last week's vote, but returned to Washington this week, providing a crucial vote.

But it is highly unlikely that the Democratic-majority Senate will vote to oust Mayorkas.

A record number of migrants have illegally crossed the border from Mexico since Biden took office in 2021, and former president Donald Trump has made it a major focus of his campaign against Biden.

Mayorkas has said he does not bear responsibility for the border situation, blaming it instead on a broken U.S. immigration system that Congress has not been able to fix.

The number of migrants arrested crossing the southern border illegally dropped by 50 percent in January from record-high levels in December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday, citing seasonal trends and increased enforcement by the United States and partner countries.

The Department of Homeland Security, in a memo released on Tuesday, defended Mayorkas's enforcement at the border and called on Congress to work with the Biden administration to reform outdated laws "instead of facilitating this farce of an impeachment."

Tuesday's vote comes a week after hardline Republicans in the Senate, egged on by Trump, defeated a bipartisan deal to address border security.

"House Republicans are largely in this fight to secure our national borders all by ourselves," Republican representative John Rose (Tenn.) said on Tuesday. "Essentially, [Democrats] like the job he's doing, or should I say not doing," Rose said, arguing for Mayorkas's impeachment.

Republicans hold a slim 219-212 majority in the House.

Trump was twice impeached by the House, when Democrats held the majority, and was twice acquitted by the Senate, which was in Republican hands.

House Republicans are investigating whether any of Biden's past behavior before moving into the White House might have constituted a high crime or misdemeanor that could result in impeachment. Some Republicans have said they do not see such evidence yet.