The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday pushed back against GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy’s call for Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to step down or potentially face impeachment — with the agency saying lawmakers can “do better than point the finger at someone else” for the problems at the southern border.
“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people,” a DHS spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.”
McCarthy, who is seen as favorite to take over as speaker when Republicans take control of the House next year, held a press conference at the southern border on Tuesday, when he said the DHS chief must resign or face potential impeachment due to his handling of the migrant crisis.
“His actions have produced the great wave of illegal immigration in recorded history,” McCarthy said at the press conference in El Paso, Texas. “This is why today I am calling on the secretary to resign.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on "Worldwide Threats to the Homeland" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 15, 2022.
(REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy)
“He cannot and must not remain in that position,” he said. “If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure to determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry.”
McCarthy’s comments mark some of the strongest from Republican leadership about Mayorkas, who has faced enormous criticism from lawmakers over the migrant crisis — which has seen a historic wave of migration at the border. There were more than 1.7 million migrant encounters in fiscal year 2021 and more than 2.3 million in fiscal year 2022. Meanwhile, so far in fiscal year 2023, there were over 230,000 migrant encounters in October — the highest number for October in years. Additionally, there has been a daily average of more than 2,500 “gotaways” getting past Border Patrol agents.
Republicans have blamed the Biden administration’s rolling back of Trump-era border security policies, as well as interior enforcement for the high numbers. They have also balked at Mayorkas’ claims that the border is “secure.”
However, DHS says that Mayorkas has no plans to resign, and that the administration inherited a broken and dismantled immigration system — which it has repeatedly said is Congress’ job to fix. In a statement Wednesday, DHS again put the ball in Congress’ court.
“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which have not been overhauled in over 40 years,” the DHS spokesperson said.
Mayorkas and the administration have pointed to cooperation efforts with Mexico to stop smuggling operations — including an operation this year which has so far arrested over 5,000 people in connection with smuggling organizations. Meanwhile, it has emphasized that it believes the migrant crisis is a challenge for the whole hemisphere, not just the U.S. — with migration at higher levels than any time since World War II and changing demographics.
“The entire hemisphere is suffering a migration crisis. We are seeing an unprecedented movement of people from country to country. It is not restricted to the southern border,” Mayorkas told lawmakers at a Senate hearing last week.
The press conference by McCarthy indicates that the border is likely to be front-and-center of the House Republican agenda next year. The GOP released a blueprint on fixing the border crisis in July, and McCarthy said this week he intends to hold hearings at the southern border itself to make Democrats see the crisis in-person.
He will also face pressure from his own members to move quickly. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., co-chair of the Border Security Caucus, tweeted that Republicans should “not be ambiguous” on the subject and that Mayorkas need to be impeached.
“Period. No hesitation.”
The White House, meanwhile, pushed back against McCarthy’s trip to the border and, despite the framework issued by Republicans in July, claimed that Republicans have no plan to solve the crisis.
“McCarthy has no plan. The Republican Party has no plan. They do nothing except political stunts,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
The press conference also comes just weeks before Title 42, a public health authority used to expel a majority of migrants at the border which has formed a key part of the administration’s efforts with Mexico to combat Venezuelan migration, will end on Dec. 21 due to a court order.
Mayorkas told lawmakers last week that there is a plan in place to deal with the ending of the order that was first issued earlier this year when the administration attempted to end the order itself.
“What we are doing is precisely what we announced we would do in April of this year, and we have indeed been executing on the plan,” he said.