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Senate dismisses Mayorkas impeachment articles

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana

Senate dismisses Mayorkas impeachment articles

5:30 p.m. update:  The Senate on Wednesday voted 51-48 and 51-49 along party lines to dismiss the two impeachment articles that House Republicans brought against U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted merely “present” on both articles. The vote came before arguments even began in Mayorkas’ impeachment trial. In a statement, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., accused the Senate of failing to perform its duty. In his statement, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., expressed his support for Mayorkas and said those behind the impeachment efforts were engaging in political theatrics.

Original story:

WASHINGTON—The Senate commenced its impeachment trial of Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on Wednesday afternoon. 

The chamber’s president pro tempore, Patty Murray, swore the Senate in as a deliberative body: “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the impeachment of Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, now pending you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws so help you God?” The senators chorused that they did.

What must the Senate decide? The two articles up for consideration—a willful and systemic refusal to comply with law, and, secondly, a breach of public trust—have split Congress along party lines. The Senate must decide whether his enforcement policies have contributed to the record-breaking flow of undocumented persons crossing the U.S. southern border. It also must consider whether those policy choices violate U.S. law.

How many people have crossed the border? Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered nearly 2.5 million people crossing the southern border. The same year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processed 52,000 asylum cases.

What are the general lines of the argument? Republicans say that Mayorkas failed to secure the country’s borders, despite a clear mandate to do so. Specifically, he released illegal border-crossers into the country without a clear way of knowing where they are or an effective way of summoning them to trial, they say. Democrats contend that Mayorkas has done the best he can with limited supplies, manpower, and an asylum system that’s poorly equipped to manage high demand.

Why does it matter? While the trial is likely to fall short of a conviction in the Democrat-controlled Senate, Mayorkas’ trial spotlights a key concern of Republican lawmakers in both chambers. They see it as a possible weakness for President Joe Biden as he pursues reelection.

For months, the GOP has called on Biden to reinstate Trump-era policies meant to discourage immigrants from making the dangerous trek to the U.S. border. In the House, Republican leadership has tied border security to many other topline priorities like international aid for Ukraine. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., authored the impeachment articles against Mayorkas.

Dig deeper: Read my coverage on what put Republicans on the road to impeachment.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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