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WSJ: Impeaching Mayorkas Achieves Nothing A policy dispute doesn’t qualify as a high crime and misdemeanor.

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Impeaching Mayorkas Achieves Nothing

A policy dispute doesn’t qualify as a high crime and misdemeanor.

The Wall Street Journal says “no” to impeaching Mayorkas. The WSJ reasoning as follows:

“House Republicans are marking up articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and the question is why? As much as we share the frustration with the Biden border mess, impeaching Mr. Mayorkas won’t change enforcement policy and is a bad precedent that will open the gates to more cabinet impeachments by both parties. 

The Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday began marking up two articles of impeachment against Mr. Mayorkas—one for breach of trust and the other for ‘willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law.’ The articles say these are ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ that justify removal from office.

The 20-page political indictment certainly is a sorry list of policy failings on Mr. Mayorkas’s watch and their damaging consequences for American cities and states. These include the entry of migrants on the terrorism watch list, and an increase in average encounters at the border from 590,000 in fiscal years 2017-2020—to 1.4 million in 2021, 2.3 million in 2022 and 2.4 million in 2023. 

These are failures of policy and execution, but are they impeachable offenses? That seems doubtful. The first article cites Mr. Mayorkas for refusing to implement a law that requires detention of aliens. It says his policy of ‘catch and release’ is impeachable.

Yet the Supreme Court has not ruled that the Biden policies are illegal. The High Court in 2022 let the Biden Administration end Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, and last year it ruled 8-1 that states don’t necessarily have standing to challenge the federal government’s enforcement priorities.

As for catch and release, one problem is the statutory ‘credible fear’ standard for claiming asylum in the U.S. The standard is too low, but it isn’t clear under the law that the Administration can legally deport people claiming asylum before they get a hearing. The U.S. lacks the facilities to hold asylum claimants, so they are released to await their hearing—and that can take years. But the problem is asylum law, as Republicans have long argued.

Article I also claims Mr. Mayorkas has violated the law by expanding humanitarian parole beyond Congress’s intent. That’s probably true, but the law puts no cap on parole numbers. Texas and other states challenged the President’s authority to use parole for large classes of migrants, but the Supreme Court ruled against them.

House Republicans dislike how the Administration is interpreting immigration law. But Congress has failed to reform asylum standards or humanitarian parole, or to otherwise tighten immigration rules. That’s why Senators are now negotiating over language to reform both the asylum standard and parole.

If Congress holds Mr. Mayorkas impeachable for policy failure, what’s the limiting principle? Are his deputies also guilty of ‘high crimes’ for implementing the Biden immigration agenda? Career officials? How many GOP cabinet secretaries will the next Democratic House line up to impeach? Policy disputes are for the voting booth, not impeachment.

All the more so because the main architect of the border-security fiasco isn’t Mr. Mayorkas. It’s his boss, President Biden. ‘If you want to flee and you are fleeing oppression, you should come,’ said Candidate Joe Biden in a 2019 debate. Mr. Mayorkas is following White House orders. 

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Impeaching Mr. Mayorkas won’t have any effect on policy, or even on the politics of border security. Most voters don’t know who Mr. Mayorkas is. Even if the House passes the articles, on a largely partisan vote, there is no chance the Democratic Senate will convict him. Impeaching Mr. Mayorkas would be the political equivalent of a no-confidence vote. This would continue Congress’s recent trend of defining impeachment down.

Grandstanding is easier than governing, and Republicans have to decide whether to accomplish anything other than impeaching Democrats. Mr. Mayorkas is an easy political target, but impeaching him accomplishes nothing beyond political symbolism.

A better idea is to strike a deal with Mr. Biden on serious border-security reforms that would restrict his discretion on parole, rewrite the asylum standard, and give the executive other tools to control the border. If Messrs. Mayorkas and Biden refuse to use them, the GOP will have an election issue. And the tools will be there for the next President to use.”

The real problem, as the WSJ says, lies with the President setting the policy, not the Cabinet Secretary who is following orders.