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Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: I Voted For a Full Impeachment Trial for Secretary Mayorkas

Pete Ricketts Weekly Column

The House of Representatives passed two impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. One article was for “willful and systemic refusal to comply with current U.S. immigration laws.” The second article was for “breach of public trust.” This week, Senate Democrats broke 227 years of precedent and dismissed the impeachment charges without holding a trial. I believe Secretary Mayorkas’ actions warranted a full impeachment trial in the Senate.

President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have the same policy tools President Trump did when he brought illegal border crossings to a 45-year low. Instead, they’ve ignored our laws and created a national security, humanitarian, and drug catastrophe at our southern border.

More than 9.4 million people have tried or have succeeded in crossing illegally since Mayorkas was sworn in. That’s more encounters than in Trump and Obama’s presidencies combined. Under Secretary Mayorkas, Border Patrol agents have apprehended 336 people on the FBI’s terror watch list. That’s 24 times more suspected terrorists than were arrested during the Trump administration.

The first impeachment article was for willfully refusing to comply with the law. In a 2021 memorandum Mayorkas sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, he said: “The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.” 

In other words, Secretary Mayorkas unilaterally decided that crossing our borders illegally would no longer be a deportable offense – even though federal law states it is. That’s just wrong.

He has also abused our parole system and our asylum laws to allow for more illegal immigration. These actions have incentivized even more illegal immigration.

According to our immigration laws, parole should only be granted on a case-by-case basis. It’s supposed to be for “urgent humanitarian need” or “significant public benefit.” The Obama and Trump administrations paroled an average of 5,600 foreigners into our country per year. Under Secretary Mayorkas, that number was 1.2 million last year. That’s two-thirds of the entire population of Nebraska. This clear abuse needs to be stopped.

The U.S. House also impeached Secretary Mayorkas for “breach of public trust.” On April 28, 2022, Mayorkas testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee. He said repeatedly that his agency possessed operational control of the southwest border, that the border was secure.

I’ve been to the border four times. I’ve seen people cross the border illegally. The border is not secure. The whole world knows our border is anything but secure.

These examples are reasonable cause for the charges against Secretary Mayorkas. There should have been a trial. Evidence should have been presented. A verdict should have been determined. But there was no trial.

The Senate had a duty to hold a full trial after the House passed articles of impeachment. Our Constitution and 227 years of Senate precedents supported this. On 21 occasions, the House sent articles of impeachment to the Senate. In four of those cases, the government official resigned or left office before a trial could be convened. In all of the other 17 cases, the Senate conducted a trial and voted guilty or not guilty. This includes the impeachment trials for Donald Trump.

Despite this clear precedent, Senate Democrats decided, in a series of partisan votes, to shirk their constitutional duty. The House impeachment managers weren’t allowed to present their evidence of Secretary Mayorkas’s guilt. Secretary Mayorkas also wasn’t allowed to defend himself. Instead, the Democrat majority of the U.S. Senate decided against discharging its duty as jurors. By refusing to fulfill their solemn obligation, my Democratic colleagues shamefully.