Washington, DC – On Wednesday, the House Majority is calling Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, before the House Judiciary Committee. The hearing has little to do with congressional oversight. Instead, it is a stage for the latest in a long series of Republican pre-baked political attacks on immigration and the border as they pursue a partisan impeachment effort against the Secretary.
Here are five key points on the timeline of the partisan impeachment effort by the Republicans on the Biden administration and immigration:
- Fall 2020, effort to blame Biden border policy for an increase in border apprehensions starts when Trump is still president: The attacks on Biden’s border policy began even before he was elected, inaugurated, or had chosen a Secretary of Homeland Security. In August of 2020, when Trump was still president, Tom Homan, who served as Acting ICE Director, went on Fox News to blame an increase in border apprehensions on candidate Joe Biden. One of the organizations created by white nationalist John Tanton, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, published a post just one day after President Joe Biden’s 2020 inauguration that accused him of “inducing an immigration and border crisis,” the American Independent reported in 2021.
- March 2021, NRCC and GOP strategists coordinate the political attack on immigration and border: As Politico reported, in January 2021, Republicans already “hatched a plan that they thought could get them back into the seats of power.” A plan that rested on ceaselessly demagoguing the predictable increase of people seeking help at the southern border, exacerbated by COVID-19, “as a political cudgel to try to retake Congress in the midterm elections.” Two months later, in March, the word had gone out that “#BidenBorderCrisis” would anchor their nativist electoral strategy. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released near-daily statements for the next year and a half using the hashtag and pushing nativist attacks. Leading Republicans and top GOP strategists and talking heads repeatedly affirmed their commitment to a nativist electoral strategy and predicted that their nativism would be decisive to their victory. This political attack has continued despite shifting facts on the ground and despite the strategy failing to deliver for the GOP at the ballot box.
- August 2021, bogus impeachment calls began in earnest. Secretary Mayorkas was confirmed on February 2, 2021, inheriting a Department that had been without a confirmed leader for several years. Just six months later, on August 9, 2021, Rep. Andy Biggs called for his impeachment. Biggs was the first to file farcical Articles of Impeachment against the Secretary. The bogus charges are a far cry from high crimes and misdemeanors, but rather an outline of policy differences saturated with nativist misinformation and xenophobic political slogans pretending to be a serious indictment. To pile on and continue the drumbeat, several MAGA Republicans have introduced their own impeachment articles or written op-eds, making their own arguments vying for a spot on Fox News.
- Early 2022, white nationalist rhetoric became central to the GOP impeachment message. The calls for impeachment included the blatant use of white nationalist conspiracy theories about a so-called “invasion,” despite the death tolls associated with that messaging. DHS, the FBI, and the Justice Department have testified that the threat from violent domestic extremists is a leading terrorist concern. In November 2022 and December 2022, DHS issued memos warning about threats to migrants and infrastructure at the southern border in response to anti-immigrant-related concerns. Yet Republicans have made echoing the rhetoric of violent domestic extremists a core part of their impeachment message, some examples:
- On February 17, 2022, Rep. Chip Roy tweeted: “#ImpeachMayorkas #StatesStopInvasion”
- In a July 2022 op-ed published on Fox News, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) laid out their case for impeachment, concluding, “Secretary Mayorkas has unquestionably violated his oath of office. He has intentionally invited millions to cross into Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California, violating Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, which requires the federal government to “protect each of [the states] against invasion.”
- On February 1, 2023, Rep. Biggs held a press conference to announce he was “filing a new and exhaustive article of impeachment against Sec. Mayorkas. The event was littered with “invasion” rhetoric.
- On May 13, 2023, Representative Lauren Boebert tweeted: “We’ve seen the video of the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso being rushed yesterday. Liberals get bent out of shape when we say our country is being invaded. Even our ports of entry are not secure. Impeach Secretary Mayorkas!”(Note: Not one of the people who “rushed the bridge” based on a false rumor of the border being open got in and there was evidence that the rumor stemmed from a Breitbart story’s misinformation.)
- On May 17, 2023, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted: “Our Southern border is being invaded, overrun & ignored. 1000s of illegal aliens, tons of drugs & even terrorists cross our border every day. Secretary Mayorkas is responsible. Today, I’m introducing articles of impeachment to remove him from office.” (Note: These “alternative facts” do not hold up under scrutiny.)
- 2023, the House Majority co-opted Congress to be the stage for their nativist political theater, promising impeachment in the third-act. Before the 118th Congress was sworn in, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) announced he was filing his own Articles of Impeachment against the Secretary and in the roughly seven months that followed the House Majority has held dozens of hearings, often with multiple hearings across different committees every week they are in session peddling the same nativist narratives as they look to build a drum beat for impeachment. Nor has Republican leadership been shy about their strategy here. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has refused to halt the effort, and, shortly after the midterm election on November 22, in a bid to shore up his path to the Speaker’s gavel, McCarthy traveled to the border to reassert that impeachment was still on the table. Later, the New York Times reported that the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), had bragged at a fundraiser about his “five-phase” push towards the sham impeachment effort.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director at America’s Voice:
“The effort to impeach DHS Secretary has nothing to do with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and everything to do with political stunts and partisan nativist theater. It is perfectly acceptable and welcome that Americans of all stripes express a desire for common sense solutions to the question on how to manage migration. What is unacceptable, and in this case dangerous, is the fact that the GOP uses immigration as red meat for their base, and even before President Biden even took office, Republicans have been waging a coordinated disingenuous attack about the border and immigration. The GOP strategy is not just an affront to our values, but also a colossal waste of time and taxpayer’s money. Further, their attacks have far too often echoed the talking points of the far-right and very real domestic terror threat the Secretary is supposed to combat.
Republicans have been running this play for the last two years, and in the process, not just blocking any real progress on immigration but also putting a target on immigrants’ backs. Next week is the anniversary of the El Paso massacre where 23 people were shot and killed in 2019 in a Walmart by a gunman convinced that Texas was being ‘invaded.’ In their impeachment efforts, Republicans continue to let the MAGA extremists dictate the agenda as they appeal to a narrow base and an insular right-wing media. The impeachment hearing this week is just that: a farcical effort to appeal to the MAGA base for political gain, with potentially dangerous consequences.”