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McCarthy calls on Mayorkas to stop and promises border searches

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to resign Tuesday or face an investigation next year that could lead to his impeachment by a majority of the House GOP.

McCarthy announced that he would nominate the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), and the Oversight Committee’s top Republican, Rep. reduce arrests for immigration into the United States interior when they preside over their respective committees in January.

“Our country may never recover from Secretary Mayorkas’ dereliction of duty,” McCarthy said after he and six other Republicans visited U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel in El Paso.

McCarthy and other Republicans disputed Mayorkas’ claims, most recently at a congressional hearing last week, that the border is “secure.”

“We can’t find a border agent who agrees with him. So we’ll investigate,” McCarthy said.

Mayorkas has no plans to resign, Department of Homeland Security officials said Tuesday, noting that the agency is managing a record number of detentions at the US-Mexico border, including of people fleeing repressive regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which cannot be easily expelled. .

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance this department’s noble mission, support its extraordinary workforce and serve the American people,” spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa said in an email. “Congressmen can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions to our broken system and outdated laws, which have not been revised in over 40 years.”

The push to investigate Mayorkas began well before Tuesday when House Republicans campaigned to oust him immediately if they regained the majority. Republicans have united around attacking Mayorkas and President Biden for what they say is their collective failure to contain the wave of migrants at the border by reversing former President Donald Trump’s restrictive measures. They also say the administration does not have enough staff to adequately handle the influx of people and illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, entering the United States.

While the border has become a unifying issue for House Republicans, the approach to enact substantial immigration reform that could ease pressure on border guards has left the ideologically divided conference splintered. GOP members and aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, remain pessimistic that reforms can be achieved given how politically toxic the immigration debate has become within their own ranks.

The incredibly tight margins will force Republicans to work with Democrats if they want reforms to be approved by a Democrat-controlled Senate and signed by Biden. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R), who represents most of the US-Mexico border in Texas, says he has weekly conversations with Democrats, including about immigration reform, which he says starts with securing the border by making sure those who those who do not qualify for asylum are immediately returned to their country of origin.

“I’m looking for partners, and it’s been very difficult in this political environment to find partners who want to have a real conversation. But we are still able to do it,” he said before pointing to the Bipartisan Border Solutions Act he had proposed with Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.).

But the razor-thin majority Republicans who got this midterm will make it more difficult for the party to find a legislative path, given the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus, which favored the efforts of previous GOP speakers John A. Boehner ( Ohio) and Paul D blocked. Ryan (Wis.) to reform immigration laws because they felt the proposals were too lax.

That’s why Republicans have focused on investigations against the Biden administration, an advantage they get as the party in charge of the House. In addition to investigating Mayorkas, Republicans have pledged to investigate the business dealings and art sales of Biden’s son Hunter, the Biden government’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of the novel coronavirus; school closures related to the coronavirus, the government’s deliberations on arms sales to Ukraine, and the spending of the House select committee to investigate the January 6, 2021 uprising.

Mayorkas, a former U.S. attorney and deputy secretary of homeland security during the Obama administration, was the chief steward of the Biden administration’s complicated efforts to create a more humane immigration system while creating a more orderly system at the border . He is also responsible for ending the detention of family migrants and criticized the previous Republican administration for forcibly separating migrant children from their parents at the border.

But Mayorkas has also drawn criticism over the massive arrival of migrants from Latin America and other regions, especially from Republicans who say the Biden administration’s policies encourage migrants to try to enter the United States in search of a better life. .

McCarthy’s move comes days after he ran for leadership in the narrowly divided House and as the Department of Homeland Security prepares to wind down one of the Trump administration’s key border policies, known as Title 42, which allows border officials to deport migrants from instead of letting them enter the United States to seek asylum or release them pending a trial. The policy has led to more than 2.4 million evictions, mostly from the southern border.

Officials tried to end Title 42 in May, but a lawsuit filed by 24 states in Louisiana temporarily held them back. Another federal judge, in the District of Columbia, vacated the policy last week, giving the administration until Dec. 21 to terminate it.

Trump’s staunchest allies are calling for Mayorkas and Biden to be impeached immediately over the border crisis rather than delay actions by investigating. McCarthy has previously signaled a cautious approach to impeachment.

“We never do impeachment for political purposes,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “If the investigation leads to an impeachment inquiry, we will proceed.

GOP members and aides have privately expressed their hope that removing Mayorkas might be enough scalp to throw at Trump’s “Make America Great Again” base, then also go after Biden and set a precedent for the majority of the House to impeach any president who does not like his party.

“I think the president and Mayorkas have shown dereliction of duty at the border. I say that as a middle-of-the-road conservative dealmaker,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). “This is a problem we should be monitoring.”

Bacon echoed McCarthy, warning that impeaching only members of the Biden administration would “damage us in the long run,” as swing voters, like those he represents, don’t want a GOP majority focused on investigations alone.

Impeachment also faces even greater odds in the Senate, where a Democratic majority will likely vote to acquit a member of the Biden administration. The only cabinet member to be impeached was William Belknap, President Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary of war, in 1876 for taking bribes.

McCarthy’s public statement against Mayorkas was seen by some as an early signal to the Freedom Caucus that he is serious about their calls to investigate the Biden administration at a time when he is struggling to secure the 218 votes needed to become official speaker. to be on January 3.

McCarthy was nominated behind closed doors last week to be speaker after a large number of members supported his candidacy, but he was shocked by the 218 he would need in January after Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, received 31 votes.

Five Freedom Caucus members have so far said they would not support McCarthy in January, a total that could be enough to reduce his chances on the floor if Republicans only have four or five seats in the majority once all races are over. proclaimed.

One way to keep the Freedom Caucus hushed is based on who McCarthy and his leadership team call to lead the House Homeland Security Committee. Traveling to El Paso, Representatives Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) battle for first place after Representative John Katko (RN.Y.) announced he would not seek re-election . The Freedom Caucus hopes McCarthy and his allies choose Green because they want to expand their influence over committees, a right that previous GOP speakers had banned.

Mayorkas’ future came up for discussion at a homeland security committee hearing last week, when Republicans like Freedom Caucus member Rep. Michael Guest (Miss.) applauded him for pressuring former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus to resign after less than a year on the job. But when Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) asked if he would also step down, Mayorkas stated he had no plans to do so.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Mayorkas told LaTurner at the hearing. “I am very committed to achieving more.”

“I hope for the safety of the American people that there will be a conversation soon,” LaTurner said.

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) was clearer in his threat, telling Mayorkas, “We look forward to seeing you in January.”

Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.

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