House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign because of his dealings with the US-Mexico border, and said that Republican lawmakers will consider impeachment next year if he doesn’t resign.
“If Secretary Mayorkas doesn’t resign, House Republicans will investigate. Every order, action, and failure will determine whether we can launch an impeachment investigation,” McCarthy said at a news conference in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday.
McCarthy cited the statements made by the head of the Department of Homeland Security before Congress that the border was under control, record numbers at border crossings, and his end of the “stay in Mexico” asylum policy introduced during the Trump administration as reasons for resigning.
“Our country may never recover from Secretary Mayorkas’ default of duty,” McCarthy said.
The minority leader’s comments are his strongest words yet about impeachment, but they don’t live up to the promise to publish articles against Mayorkas.
McCarthy was nominated by Republicans in the House of Representatives as speaker for the next Congress in a closed-door vote last week.
But he still faces opposition from conservative hardliners, who have urged him to be more aggressive on issues such as the impeachment of Biden government officials and President Biden himself.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), former House Speaker Freedom Caucus, called McCarthy out for a last-minute protest action, citing the minority leader’s unwillingness to sue Mayorkas. Biggs has previously introduced impeachment articles against the administration official. He won 31 votes in the session of the House Republican Conference by secret ballot, while McCarthy received 188 votes.
McCarthy needs the support of the majority of those who voted for a speaker candidate in the House of Representatives on January 3 to be elected to office.
But the Republicans won a narrow majority in the 2022 midterm elections, and McCarthy has little room for error in this vote. Some Republicans, including Biggs, have indicated they won’t vote for him.
The press conference with other members of the House of Representatives Republicans came after a day of sightseeing the US-Mexico border and meetings with border officials.
McCarthy said Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and James Comer (Ky.), the likely chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees next year, “have my full support in investigating the collapse of our border and the closure of ICE enforcement.”
“Leader McCarthy is right. Americans deserve responsibility for the unprecedented crisis on the Southwest border. The Republicans will hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable for his failure to not enforce immigration law and secure the border by whatever means necessary,” said Jordan, who would oversee the impeachment proceedings should they take place, in a statement distributed during the news conference.
Republicans have promised to explore the Biden administration’s border and migration policies, which is an important part of their medium-term campaign message, and Comer has long said it will hold hearings across the border. Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Minority Whip, joked in September that the House Rep. would give Mayorkas a reserved parking space because he would testify so often.
Mayorkas, who has no plans to resign, pushed Congress back in a statement released shortly after McCarthy’s speech.
“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, to support its exceptional workforce, and to serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
“Congressmen can do a better job than point fingers at someone else. They should come to the table and work on solutions to our broken system and outdated laws that haven’t been revised in over 40 years,” the statement continues.
In appearances before Congress last week, Mayorkas claimed the border was under control but acknowledged that the fiscal year ending in September showed that 1.7 million migrants had tried to cross the Southwest border.
“The entire hemisphere is suffering from a migration crisis. We are seeing an unprecedented movement of people from country to country,” he said.
He also promised to look for new ways to restrict immigration after a federal court removed Title 42, which allowed the agency to quickly expel migrants for public health reasons without seeking asylum.
Mayorkas said the department is currently looking into how Venezuelans can be expelled at the border, a group that accounts for a large proportion of migrants coming to America due to political and economic instability there.
The latest calls for Mayorkas to resign came shortly after the resignation of US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus from office, after being called upon to do so by President Biden.
McCarthy first appeared to open the door to Mayorkas impeachment at another press conference in April.
“This is his time to do his job. But if someone is no longer doing their job, there is always the option to sue someone,” McCarthy said at a news conference in April in Eagle Pass, Texas.
However, he later lowered expectations of impeachment and stated that he did not want the proceedings to be political, as he claimed that the Democrats had impeached former President Trump. McCarthy reiterated this opinion in El Paso on Tuesday.
“We never impeachment proceedings for political reasons. We’re conducting an investigation,” McCarthy said.
“We know exactly what Minister Mayorkas has done. We’ve watched across the nation, something that has never happened before. We watched him time and again before the committee said that this border was safe and we can’t find a border agent who agrees with him,” McCarthy said. “So we’re going to look into that. If the investigation leads to an impeachment investigation, we will follow up.”
Rebecca Beitsch contributed to this.