Republicans and Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee clashed at the first hearing to examine whether DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas should be impeached over his handling of the crisis at the southern border – and as state attorneys general explained how the crisis had harmed their states.

The committee held the first impeachment hearing at a time when the migrant crisis is setting records at the border, with over 302,000 migrant encounters in December, and a current release rate of over 85%. 

Republicans and Democrats have been deeply split over what has caused the crisis and those divisions were on display as Republicans pointed at the Biden administration, and Democrats accused Republicans of not working with them to fix the crisis. 


“Secretary Mayorkas has brazenly refused to enforce the laws passed by Congress and has enacted policies that knowingly make our country less safe,” Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., said. “What we’re seeing here is a willful violation of the oath of office taken by Secretary Mayorkas.”

Republicans have blamed an expanded catch-and-release, a rollback of Trump-era policies, an “abuse” of humanitarian parole to release migrants into the interior, and the ending of border wall construction as factors in what has encouraged a massive and historic migrant crisis. Green also said his committee’s investigation has uncovered 100 instances where Mayorkas has misled the public.

DHS and Democrats have rejected that narrative, pointing to what it says are a large number of recent removals and returns and saying that authorities need more funding and a comprehensive immigration reform package – including a $14 billion supplemental funding request currently being negotiated in Congress. 

Ranking member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., accused Republicans of throwing “political red meat” to their base in an effort to keep campaign money coming in during an election year.

“It’s now campaign season, and Republicans recently rolled out their impeachment proceedings against the secretary like the pre-planned, pre-determined political stunt it is. This is not a legitimate impeachment,” he said.

Thompson also defended Mayorkas’ conduct in office.

“The facts show Secretary Mayorkas is doing his job across all the department’s many critical homeland security missions, including border security and immigration enforcement. Despite what Republicans would have Americans believe, Secretary Mayorkas is enforcing immigration law,” he said.

Republicans invited three Republican attorneys general from the heartland to describe the impact the crisis had on their states. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen described an explosion of fentanyl pouring into the state, with authorities on track to have seized half a million dosage units in 2023, from over 6,000 in 2020. 

The drug is produced primarily in Mexico using Chinese precursors and then shipped across the southern land border. It can be fatal in tiny doses and is often hidden in other drugs so users don’t know they are ingesting fentanyl. Republicans have linked the fentanyl crisis to the border crisis. 


Knudsen said he believed the border had been largely secured under the Trump administration, but that work had been undone under the leadership of Mayorkas.

“Secretary Mayorkas is the architect of that destruction. The American people are watching. They know that our border was secured just a few years ago. They see the devastation metastasizing in our communities from drugs and human trafficking. The conclusion is clear, Secretary Mayorkas has violated his oath, and I urge this body to impeach,” he said.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond described the crime his state had seen, citing stats that the Oklahama Department of Corrections is housing more than 500 illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes. 

“Illegal immigration cost Oklahoma taxpayers more than $750 million each year with a minimal offset return,” he said.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said the number of illegal immigrants who have entered the U.S. since 2021 is larger than the population of his state.

“These numbers are not an accident. There is only one reason eight million people illegally cross a sovereign nation’s border – because they know that they can get away with it,” he said. “There has been an orchestrated lack of enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. [Mayorkas] has failed to do that which is most fundamental to his mission. Protect our border.”

Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri, called as a witness by Democrats, was skeptical of the impeachment claims being made – warning that impeachment cannot be used for policy disagreements.

“Official conduct must meet a very high threshold of seriousness. It must also be of a type that corrupts and subverts political and governmental process, and it ought to be plainly wrong, regardless of legal,” he said. “The most commonly encountered categories of impeachable conduct are official corruption, abuse of power, betrayal of the nation’s foreign policy interests, subversion of the Constitution. There is no serious allegation of which I’m aware that the secretary has done any of those things.”

Meanwhile, DHS issued a memo ripping into the impeachment effort, pointing to prior comments from Republicans who say the threshold for impeachment has not been met. It also argued that it has stopped more fentanyl in the last two years than in the previous five years combined.

“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 agency said.