Alejandro Mayorkas

House Republicans finally mustered enough votes on Tuesday to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, over what they claim is the mishandling of the U.S.-Mexico border.

After failing to do so last week and losing the vote by 214-216, Republicans this time had the support of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who was absent last time as he was getting cancer treatment. His vote, along with other absences, tilted the scale on their favor, the final tally being 214-213. House Democrats voted in unison against the impeachment, which was also vehemently opposed by the White House.

"Next to a declaration of war, impeachment is arguably the most serious authority given to the House and we have treated this matter accordingly," said House Speaker Mike Johnson. "Since this secretary refuses to do the job that the Senate confirmed him to do, the House must act."

Mayorkas has consequently become the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached in almost 150 years and the first sitting member to be targeted by such a measure. Back then, Secretary of War William Belknap resigned just before the vote.

However, this doesn't mean Mayorkas has already been ousted. The impeachment articles will now head to the Senate, which will have the final word on whether he should be convicted and ejected from his position.

The Senate is compelled to at least open a trial, although it could vote to dismiss the articles, dissolve the trial or refer the articles to a committee.

The U.S. Capitol Hill Harold Mendoza/Unsplash.

Republicans face a much steeper hill in their efforts there. They need two thirds of the chamber to vote in favor of conviction, in contrast with the House's simple majority. Considering that Democrats control the Senate 51-49 and they have rallied behind Mayorkas, a conviction is highly unlikely. Moreover, the secretary has said he's ready to defend himself if events lead to a trial.

At the center of the efforts is the implementation of a series of family reunification parole programs, which allowed some foreign nationals to wait in the U.S. for immigration visas. The allegation says Mayorkas should have used those resources to detain people crossing the border illegally.

The first article against the Secretary claims he displayed a "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law," and the second that he breached public trust by having "knowingly made false statements, and knowingly obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland Security."

The second article argues that Mayorkas knowingly made false statements to Congress by saying that the border was secure and that he obstructed oversight.

Biden immediately came out to reject the impeachment, calling the vote a "blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games."

"We will continue pursuing real solutions to the challenges Americans face, and House Republicans have to decide whether to join us to solve the problem or keep playing politics with the border," he added.

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