Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday scoffed at the “baseless’’ failed impeachment push against him while skirting responsibility for the migrant crisis and instead blasting Congress over it.
Mayorkas, 64 — who narrowly dodged impeachment by the House last week over the border debacle — acknowledged the ongoing crisis but underscored that the problem predated the Biden administration.
“It certainly is a crisis. And, well, we don’t bear responsibility for a broken system, and we’re doing a tremendous amount within the system. But fundamentally, Congress is the only one who can fix it,” Mayorkas told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
For years, Mayorkas has said both publicly and before Congress that the border is “secure.” Last week, President Biden, 81, a fellow Democrat, undercut him and admitted the “border is not secure” before pinning blame on his predecessor.
Mayorkas on Sunday dodged a question about the discrepancy in their remarks.
Last week, an effort by House Republicans to impeach Mayorkas went up in flames in part because of Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) getting wheeled into Congress from the hospital while recovering from abdominal surgery to vote against it, in addition to GOP defections to the Dem side.
“Sometimes when you’re counting votes and people show up when they’re not expected to be in the building, it changes the equation,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) conceded afterward.
Republicans have hinted at plans to try for impeachment again.
“They’re baseless allegations,” Mayorkas shot back of the GOP’s accusations against him. “That’s why I really am not distracted by them and focused on the work of the Department of Homeland Security.”
House Republicans have accused Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” while presiding over the border crisis and “breach of public trust” for allegedly lying to Congress by saying the border is “secure” and that DHS has “operational control” of it.
In addition to the impeachment effort against Mayorkas falling by the wayside, a sweeping bipartisan border security reform package in the Senate collapsed last week.
The deal had been negotiated for some four months and was widely seen as a means of unlocking Republican support for a broader supplemental featuring aid to Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific allies.
Now the Senate is mulling a roughly $95 billion supplemental without the border provisions.
“The system has not been fixed for 30 years. A bipartisan group of senators [has] now presented us with the tools and resources we need … and yet Congress killed it before even reading it,” Mayorkas bemoaned.
A chorus of Republicans have pressed Biden to take executive action to allay the border crisis similar to his predecessor, Donald Trump, such as reviving the “Remain in Mexico” policy — an arrangement in which asylum-seekers stay in Mexico while their court cases play out in the US.
“We have taken executive actions already. We continuously review what options are available to us, but those are always challenged in the courts,” Mayorkas countered.
“Mexico has articulated publicly that it will not allow the reimplementation of ‘Remain in Mexico,’ ” he said.
At the moment, there has been a backlog of more than 3 million asylum cases in US courts.
Since Biden was sworn in as president in January 2021, US Customs and Border Protection has had at least 7 million encounters near the southern border.
Mayorkas also opined on special counsel Robert Hur’s scathing report that dropped last week in which he declined to press charges against the president for his retention of classified documents while concluding a jury would likely see him as a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.”
In his report, Hur documented a number of instances in which Biden’s memory lapsed during their over 5-hourlong interview last year.
Mayorkas dinged Hur for making “gratuitous, unnecessary and inaccurate, personal remarks” about the president in his 388-page report.
“The most difficult part about a meeting with President Biden is preparing for it because he is sharp, intensely probing and detail-oriented,” Mayorkas countered.
Some Republicans such as Rep. Claudia Tenney latched onto the Hur report and suggested Biden’s cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment to oust him from office on the basis that he is incapacitated from serving.
Mayorkas, a member of the president’s cabinet, was asked if those conversations had taken place.
“Not at all,” Mayorkas said.