Skip to content

House GOP spotlights border security in hearing, resolution

Democrats counter that Republicans prefer “political theater” to bipartisan immigration negotiations

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., conducts a news conference Wednesday outside the Capitol to call for the impeachment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Also appearing from left, are, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Pat Fallon, R-Texas, Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Brian Babin, R-Texas, and Bob Good, R-Va.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., conducts a news conference Wednesday outside the Capitol to call for the impeachment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Also appearing from left, are, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Pat Fallon, R-Texas, Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Brian Babin, R-Texas, and Bob Good, R-Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans thrust the U.S.-Mexico border into the spotlight on Wednesday as they held the first of a series of hearings hammering the administration on its border policies and unveiled another impeachment resolution against the Homeland Security chief.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee used a more than five-hour hearing — the panel’s first of the year —to point the finger at the Biden administration for overseeing record high levels of migration to the southwest border. Border agents reported a record number of more than 250,000 encounters with migrants in December alone.

Republican guests included an Arizona sheriff and a parent who lost his child to fentanyl poisoning, while Democrats invited a judge from El Paso.

“These numbers make clear the Biden administration does not have operational control of the border,” Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in his opening remarks. “And frankly, I think it’s intentional.”

His Republican colleagues followed suit. Rep. Tom McClintock of California, chair of the Judiciary Committee’s immigration panel, said that fentanyl is “pouring across our border” and that migrants are “flooding emergency rooms” and “flooding the labor market.”

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana accused the administration of “dismantling immigration enforcement” and “encouraging illegal immigration.”

The hearing, titled “The Biden Border Crisis, Part 1,” could serve as fodder for House Republicans to bolster another goal of theirs: impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Impeachment resolution

Later in the afternoon, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., also a Judiciary Committee member, unveiled an impeachment resolution against Mayorkas. Biggs is the second House Republican to release a resolution to impeach Mayorkas this session, after Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas.

Biggs’ resolution, which has more than two dozen co-sponsors, alleges Mayorkas “presided over a reckless abandonment of border security and immigration enforcement,” which includes narrowing immigration enforcement priorities and halting border wall construction.

Biggs said in a brief interview Wednesday that the Judiciary Committee hearing is part of his effort to build an impeachment case against Mayorkas. While he is already familiar with the topics discussed at the hearing, Biggs said there may be issues “that are new here for others.”

Biggs was also optimistic that leaders in his own party would consider bringing the impeachment measure to the floor for a vote. He said Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California is now “much more willing to entertain” impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas.

“Look, you gotta convince a lot of people,” Biggs said. “But I think that there are a lot more people today who are interested than there were six months ago.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, after the committee hearing, said Mayorkas “is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people.”

“Instead of trying to point fingers and score political points, the members of Congress recklessly and baselessly pursuing impeachment should work on legislative solutions for our broken system, which has not been updated in over 40 years,” the spokesperson said.

Democratic criticism

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, slammed his Republican colleagues during the hearing for preferring “political theater” to bipartisan immigration negotiations.

“Sadly at every turn this extreme Republican majority fails to offer genuine solutions and resorts to political theater. Our colleagues across the aisle cannot even negotiate in good faith with each other, let alone with us,” Nadler said.

House Democrats were quick to point to data, published by Customs and Border Protection, that shows most fentanyl is seized at ports of entry, not in between the ports where asylum-seekers cross. In fiscal 2022, roughly 85 percent of fentanyl seized was picked up at the ports, according to CBP data.

“This is chaos, what I’m seeing from my Republican colleagues,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said. “The fentanyl crisis is not happening where you all are claiming it’s happening.”

Other Democrats at the Judiciary also tore into their Republican colleagues for rhetoric they said is racist and anti-immigrant. Several specifically condemned a proposed border security bill from Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy that would restrict migration at the southwest border. Roy’s bill was initially set for an early floor vote, but has stalled amid opposition from members of his own party.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s immigration panel, said these types of proposals show Republicans “want to go even further than Donald Trump” on immigration “with policies that would effectively end asylum.”

“I understand that the issues that we are talking about today require my Republican colleagues to tell a lot of statements that aren’t true, to use nativist rhetoric, words like ‘invasion’ and ‘flooding,’ that have actually been used throughout the history of this country to demonize immigrants to this country,” Jayapal said. “But that is not the way that we are going to solve this problem.”

Recent Stories

Wyden wants more Medicaid funding to keep obstetric units open

Supreme Court’s redistricting decision could hurt map challengers

Does Joe Biden need a miracle or just a bit of good luck?

Graves decides not to run after Louisiana district redrawn

Garland won’t face contempt of Congress charge over Biden audio

Hold on to your bats! — Congressional Hits and Misses