UPDATE 2/18: It was the most useless and dumbest thing the House MAGA minority could do, so of course, they led their pack of cowed Trumpanzees to do it: they actually impeached Mayorkas for – nothing. They will either get some Republican support on a motion to dismiss without a trial in the Senate, or have the most embarrassing impeachment trial ever. Either way, it is just another way to waste precious legislative floor time on performative bullshit. Of course, an impeachment takes precedence over all other business in the Senate, so it will have to be the next item taken up when the Senate comes back from break – hard up against another self-inflicted government shutdown, of course. Good times…
I was a wee bit curious about just what MAGA Trumpanzees in Congress thought that Homeland Secretary Mayorkas had done to deserve an impeachment inquiry. So I finally decided to actually read the Articles of Impeachment and the relevant portions of the laws referred to therein. Turns out the answer is: doing his job. If you want a good close analysis of the articles, the New York Times has a very good one. They do a much more thorough job of fisking the fuck out of this nonsense than I.
Even for the truly jaded Congress watcher, like myself, this marks yet another low point as to the integrity and norms of the institution of Congress. The MAGA faction is trying (in vain, it seems…) to impeach Mayorkas for simply following the laws laid out by Congress and the directives and policies of his Administration as best he can, like any other cabinet official. In short, he’s being impeached because the separation of powers is a real and messy thing in the American way of government.
The fact that the priorities and powers granted under various immigration laws can sometimes be in conflict as to goals, methods, and available resources (not to mention court orders) is hardly Mayorkas’ fault. Mayorkas has scrupulously followed the laws passed by Congress while pursuing the policies and preferences of his President, and yet the MAGA faction has decided that wherever there is a conflict in law, they would simply interpret every policy preference they agree with as a command, and every policy choice they disagree with as a violation of the law. They are using impeachment as a coercive partisan tool in the normal push and pull of divided government.
The first of the two charges of the impeachment articles allege Mayorkas committed ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ by failing to establish ‘operational control’ of the border by preventing ‘all unlawful entries into the United States” as required by a 2006 law. Oh, and Mayorkas “terminated contracts” for building the stupid wall at the direction of the President, “despite funds being appropriated by Congress for this purpose”. In short, they are pissed that Mayorkas has failed to do the impossible on the one hand, and the wasteful and unserious on the other. Neither is a criminal or corrupt act.
Mayorkas is also alleged in the first article to have violated the Immigration and Nationality Act by ‘releasing illegal aliens into the interior of the United States despite the plain language of the act, which requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to detain inadmissible aliens”, except the INA also gives the president and the homeland security secretary broad discretion to prioritize who is detained and explicit power to grant paroles, which allows migrants to live and work temporarily in the country.
Asylum seekers are NOT ‘illegal aliens’; they have a legal right to seek refuge in the United States. The MAGA do not recognize such a distinction, claiming that all asylum seekers are simply “fraudulent”. But even if what MAGA claims were true – that Mayorkas was paroling ‘illegal aliens’ – that is not a criminal offense, but rather a very normal use of the President’s lawful and wholly Congressionally authorized discretion to balance resources and goals in enforcing the laws. In short, MAGA is trying to impeach Mayorkas for the very traditional and wholly lawful exercise of policing discretion. They should be careful here: they are playing with a fire by which they could easily be burnt themselves.
The second article is even more nonsensical than the first: the MAGAs allege that Mayorkas “placed personnel and American citizens at risk of exposure to and contracting COVID-19 by refusing to take necessary steps to prevent potentially contagious illegal aliens from entering the United States.” Really? I can’t keep it straight anymore: isn’t COVID-19 a Chinese hoax, or no more serious than a cold… if you just eat some horse parasite paste? In any case, I don’t think these ding-dongs should really be talking about officials failing to protect the public from COVID-19, considering their God Emperor Trump’s failures on that front led to the avoidable death of an estimated quarter- to half a million Americans. In any case, Mayorkas enforced Title 42 as directed by the President and as ordered by the Courts. To paint that as some sort of ‘high crime or misdemeanor’ is patently ridiculous.
MAGA has elevated a political disagreement about policy implementation into an impeachment witch hunt. They merely seek to use the hysteria over the immigration they have whipped into a fine froth to smear and traduce a cabinet official. Mayorkas has not violated his oath. Mayorkas has not violated any criminal law. Mayorkas has not violated any law that could be conceivably obeyed: that he has not stopped ‘all unlawful entries’ just means he’s not the almighty God Emperor Trump (who claims – falsely, of course – that there was no illegal immigration during his term). MAGA just wants to beat up on Biden about the border and to devalue impeachment in the public’s minds because Trump got done twice for his corruption and crimes.
These allegations against Mayorkas are not the basis of an impeachment, they are merely the basis of a stinging letter to the Times. MAGA smears themselves in their own puerile shit and pounds their chests for the cameras once again and calls it governing. Is this really what Americans want their Congress wasting time on?