DHS Secretary
Alejandro Mayorkas AFP

House Republicans took a decisive step toward impeaching Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the early hours of Wednesday, following a party-line over what they claim are unlawful measures regarding immigration.

Concretely, the Homeland Security Committee recommended two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, sending the initiative to the full House for a vote, a move that The Associated Press described as a "rare charge against a Cabinet official unseen in nearly 150 years."

"We cannot allow this man to remain in office any longer," said Chairman Mark Green following the 18-15 vote, where all Republicans voted in favor of sending the articles and all Democrats voted against.

Democrats dismissed the move as a political stunt, with the committee's ranking Democrat, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi saying "this s a terrible day for the committee, the United States, the Constitution and our great country." "MAGA-led impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas is a baseless sham," he added.

The vote on the House could take place as soon as next week. If they are indeed approved, a likely scenario considering Republicans hold a majority, although a slim one, in the Lower House, the charges would go to the Senate for a trial. However, senators could first convene a special committee for consideration.

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.

Mayorkas, on his end, pushed back on the allegations with a letter, saying he has already testified before the committee seven times and is being ignored after offering to do so again.

"You claim that we have failed to enforce our immigration laws. That is false," wrote Mayorkas. Another letter from the DHS added that the department has stuck to "the mandatory detention requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act to the maximum extent possible," but a "standard requiring 100% detention would mean that Congress should have impeached every DHS Secretary since the Department was founded."

Mayorkas also said that he should be working with the Biden administration to overhaul the country's "broken and outdated" immigration laws to adapt to an era of record migration. "We need a legislative solution and only Congress can provide it," Mayorkas wrote.

Meanwhile, Border Patrol officers arrested almost a quarter of a million people in December for crossing into the U.S. illegally, the highest figure on record, as migration to the country continues to climb, the agency reported.

Immigration enforcement is at the center of the political conversation in the U.S., especially whether an agreement between Democrats and Republicans in Congress can be passed in the following days.

Tensions emerged between Republican lawmakers during the past days following pressure from former president Donald Trump to tank the deal on border security, as negotiators from both parties said they were getting closer to an agreement.

President Joe Biden pressured Republicans to pass the deal, saying that is willing to exercise the ability to shut down the border if it's passed.

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