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Chairman Green in the Wall Street Journal: “Why We Impeached Alejandro Mayorkas”

February 14, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C — Following the impeachment of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by the U.S. House of Representatives, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal detailing the secretary’s willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and his breach of the public trust, and why impeachment was the proper response.

Why We Impeached Alejandro Mayorkas
Chairman Mark Green
February 13, 2024

Following a nearly yearlong investigation and official impeachment proceedings by the Homeland Security Committee, the House voted on Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. It was the right thing to do.

There are two primary grounds justifying this historic act by Congress. First, Mr. Mayorkas willfully refused to comply with the law, blatantly disregarding numerous provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Though that law contains several detention mandates, Mr. Mayorkas directed the release of millions of inadmissible aliens into the country. He abused the statute allowing for parole on only a case-by-case and temporary basis and oversaw more than 1.7 million paroles. He created categorical parole programs contrary to the statute. In the interior, he directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel not to detain most illegal aliens, including criminals. In his September 2021 enforcement guidance, the secretary directed that unlawful presence in the country was no longer sufficient grounds for removal, and that criminal convictions alone weren’t enough to warrant arrest. This guidance was contrary to the law.

Second, Mr. Mayorkas breached the public trust, both by violating his statutory duty to control the border and by knowingly making false statements to Congress. Under oath, he claimed to have operational control of the border, as defined by the Secure Fence Act, only to say later that he never made such a claim. He even testified that “the border is no less secure than it was previously”—a demonstrable lie. Mr. Mayorkas has also obstructed congressional oversight, forcing the committee to issue two subpoenas for documents, which are still unfulfilled.

This transcends mere policy disagreements. The people’s representatives are seeking to address a cabinet official’s unlawful actions, which have clearly harmed the country. The homeland security secretary has a statutory duty under the Immigration and Nationality Act to “control and guard” America’s borders, and numerous other provisions of the act mandate how he is to do so.

Notably in U.S. v. Texas (2023), the Supreme Court recognized Congress’s ability to use political tools such as impeachment to remedy bad behavior. Specifically, in an exchange with Justice Brett Kavanaugh during oral arguments, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar acknowledged that the Biden administration’s position was that impeachment may be warranted in the face of a “dramatic abdication of statutory responsibility.” Mr. Mayorkas is clearly guilty of such an abdication.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito also highlighted impeachment as a legitimate response by Congress in the wake of the majority’s ruling. Equally important is the high court’s decision not to rule on whether Mr. Mayorkas’s policies were lawful—meaning opponents of impeachment can’t point to the decision as justification for the secretary’s actions.

Impeachment doesn’t require the commission of indictable crimes. The framers of the Constitution conceived of impeachment as a remedy for much more expansive failures. When officials responsible for executing the law willfully and unilaterally refuse to do so, and instead replace those laws with their own directives, they violate the Constitution by assuming power granted solely to the legislative branch. They undermine the rule of law itself—an offense worthy of impeachment and removal.

The framers gave the House the power of impeachment to preserve the integrity of our constitutional system. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 65, impeachable offenses are those “which proceed . . . from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” James Madison added that “the House of Representatives can at any time impeach” an unworthy officeholder, “whether the president chooses or not.”

There is little doubt that the framers, who cast aside tyrannical rule in favor of representative government, would view Mr. Mayorkas’s refusal to comply with the law and breach of public trust as impeachable. He is the type of public official for which they crafted this power. The Senate must finish the House’s work and convict Secretary Mayorkas.