Watch CBS News

House committee holds final impeachment hearing for DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

Republican efforts to impeach Mayorkas
Breaking down Republican efforts to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 04:25

Washington — House Republicans are moving quickly on advancing impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, holding their second and final hearing on the matter in eight days. 

"This hearing is about the human costs of Secretary Mayorkas' egregious misconduct and failure to fulfill his oath of office," said GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, the committee's chairman. 

Republicans have repeatedly accused Mayorkas of failing to enforce the nation's laws as a record number of migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. At Thursday's hearing, lawmakers heard testimony from people whose family members have died as a result of fentanyl overdoses or violent crime.

The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, has criticized the impeachment effort as a "baseless" political attack and Democrats have argued there is no legal basis for impeaching Mayorkas. 

GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, delivers opening remarks at the first impeachment hearing for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Jan. 10, 2024.
GOP Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, delivers opening remarks at the first impeachment hearing for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Jan. 10, 2024.  Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Ahead of the hearing, House Republicans and DHS clashed over whether Mayorkas will appear in person during the impeachment proceedings. Republicans wanted Mayorkas to attend this week's hearing, but he declined, citing a conflicting meeting with Mexican officials about border enforcement. The secretary agreed to testify, but asked to coordinate a time that works for his schedule. 

Green on Wednesday asked Mayorkas to provide written testimony for Thursday's hearing "so that our committee members may hear from you directly," according to a letter obtained by CBS News. Punchbowl News first reported on the letter. 

"As stated in earlier letters to you, your perspective on the crisis at the border and actions you have taken as secretary are valuable for the members of the committee and the American public to hear. Regretfully, every invitation for almost half a year we extended to you to testify focused specifically on the border crisis has been rejected or subject to endless delay tactics," Green said. 

At the hearing, Green accused Mayorkas of playing a game of "cat and mouse" with the committee, telling the media he would cooperate by finding a time to testify while refusing to work with committee staff. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee, disputed Green's claim, calling it "misinformation," while arguing that the committee's minority should be able to schedule their own hearing to give Mayorkas the ability to appear.

"Secretary Mayorkas has testified before Congress more than any other Cabinet secretary," Thompson said. "His willingness to work with the committee has been a welcomed change from the Trump administration, whose official consistently refused to comply with congressional oversight."

DHS said Mayorkas has testified before Congress 27 times in less than three years. The committee has also not communicated with the department in the last week about alternate dates for Mayorkas to testify, a spokesperson said. 

"This is just the latest example of Committee Republicans' sham process. It's abundantly clear that they are not interested in hearing from Secretary Mayorkas since it doesn't fit into their bad-faith, predetermined and unconstitutional rush to impeach him," spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement Wednesday. 

During the hearing, two mothers recounted stories about their children, who they said died in part because of what they see as failures by the Department of Homeland Security and its management of the southern border.

"In my humble opinion, Mr. Mayorkas' border policy is partially responsible for my daughter's death," Josephine Dunn, who testified about her daughter's death from fentanyl poisoning, said. "His wide open border policy allows massive quantities of poisonous fentanyl into our country."

The committee also heard testimony from Deborah Pearlstein, the law and public policy director at Princeton University, who noted that Congress hasn't approved substantial policy changes on immigration in decades.

"The action under consideration here, impeachment, isn't a tool of policy change," Pearlstein said. "Particularly the impeachment of a single Cabinet official who can be replaced by another official in precisely the same role will have no effect on the heartbreaking problems we have heard described."

Attorneys general from Montana, Oklahoma and Missouri testified at the first impeachment hearing, highlighting the impact of migration on their states under Mayorkas' leadership. They attributed drug and trafficking incidents in their communities to the surge of migrants at the southern border.

The committee's 18 Republican members said in a statement after Thursday's hearing that they all supported impeaching Mayorkas. 

"After our nearly year-long investigation and subsequent impeachment proceedings, and having exhausted all other options to hold him accountable, it is unmistakably clear to all of us — and to the American people — that Congress must exercise its constitutional duty and impeach Secretary Mayorkas," they said. 

Even if the GOP-controlled House impeaches Mayorkas, it is highly unlikely that he would be convicted in a trial in the Senate, which has a Democratic majority and would require a vote of two-thirds of senators to remove him from office. But Mayorkas would be the first Cabinet official to be impeached since 1876. 

Nikole Killion, Nicole Sganga and Camilo Montoya-Galvez contributed reporting.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.