Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are offering their support for DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ahead of the committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday -- with the lawmakers accusing their Republican colleagues of running a "sham" process.
"What is going on tomorrow is an embarrassment to the impeachment clause of the Constitution," Rep. Dan Goldman, D-NY, told reporters.
The hearing,"Havoc in the Heartland: How Secretary Mayorkas’ Failed Leadership Has Impacted the States," marks the first impeachment hearing after a year of investigations and reports by the House Homeland Security Committee which looked at Mayorkas’ handling of the nearly three-year migrant crisis.
The hearing will see testimony from attorneys general from Montana, Oklahoma and Missouri. The AGs will testify about the impact of the crisis on their states and their belief that Mayorkas is not enforcing the law.
But Democrats on the committee say that Republicans have turned what is a policy dispute into a politically motivated impeachment push.
"This is simply a policy dispute, a disagreement about how a different party is attacking a policy problem. And the Republicans are trying to abuse their power and the Constitution to convert what is simply a disagreement into somehow, some way, a high crime and misdemeanor," Goldman said. "There is no crime, much less a high crime or misdemeanor here."
Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., described the process as a "political sham with no constitutional basis, no factual basis."
Republicans have claimed that the crisis, which has seen multiple records smashed for migrant encounters, is "unprecedented and intentional."
"The chaos and devastation at the border and in our communities are the result of Alejandro Mayorkas’ failure to fulfill his oath as secretary of Homeland Security," Chairman Mark Green said this week. "His primary responsibility is to secure the homeland—and he has failed."
Republicans have accused the administration of fueling the crisis with "open border" policies, including expanded catch-and-release and the rolling back of Trump-era policies such as the Remain-in-Mexico policy and border wall construction. They’ve pointed to the record number of migrant encounters as the border that have skyrocketed during the Biden administration, as well as the significant number of releases into the interior.
Democrats and the administration have said that authorities are dealing with a hemisphere-wide crisis and are in need of more funding and comprehensive immigration reform from Congress.
Both Democrats and Republicans have proposed border and immigration bills that are vastly different from one another, while talks are currently ongoing about $14 billion in supplemental border funding requested by the administration, with Republicans demanding restrictions on releases.
DHS put out a memo ahead of the hearing arguing that Mayorkas was currently working with a bipartisan group of senators to find real solutions to the challenges at the border and called the accusations "baseless."
"Members of Congress serious about addressing these challenges should oppose this baseless impeachment that is going nowhere and instead work with the Department to keep America safe by properly funding DHS’s vital missions and reforming our broken immigration laws," the memo said, also pointing to statements by a number of Republicans who have said that the alleged offenses have not met the standard for impeachment.
Talking to reporters, Democrats also blamed Republicans for not working with them to solve the issue. Rep. Seth Magaziner, D-R.I., accused Republicans of being "complicit" in the struggles at the border.
"Democrats fully recognize, and the administration I know recognizes that we have real challenges at the border. There are people who are fleeing their home countries due to political instability, due to violence, due to poverty and trying to come to the United States and it has created a chaotic situation," he said. "But House Republicans, rather than work with the administration and work with the secretary to solve the problem instead care more about having a political issue to run on than they do actually solving the challenges that we have at the border."
Additionally, they praised Mayorkas’ handling of both the crisis and the efforts to find agreement on supplemental spending with lawmakers, and argued that Republiacns haven’t given him the tools with which to do his job.
"I think he's doing a very good job under very tough circumstances," Ivey said. "We haven't really given him the tools to fix it and now they try to beat him up for not being able to perform without the tools."
"Secretary Mayorkas has one of, if not the hardest job in the United States of America. And House Republicans have tried to undercut him and prevent him from being able to do his job every step of the way," Magaziner said. "Deny him the funding. Deny him the tools because they view this as a political game, when really we ought to be working together to solve the challenges at the border."