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GOP is calling to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Republicans are using their new majority in the House to investigate what they call a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. There are growing calls in the GOP to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but Democrats say the disputes amount to policy disagreements, not impeachable offenses. NPR's Joel Rose reports Mayorkas is not backing down.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: No Cabinet member has ever been removed from office by impeachment. That hasn't stopped some House Republicans from trying.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CAVUTO LIVE")

JAMES COMER: Look, I would vote to impeach Mayorkas right now. And I think...

ROSE: That's James Comer of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, speaking to Fox News last month. The GOP-led House has held two hearings on the southern border in recent weeks, as well as multiple press conferences and scores of interviews accusing the Biden administration of deliberately inviting migrants to cross the border illegally to seek asylum.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

JIM JORDAN: I think it's intentional. I don't know how anyone with common sense or logic can reach any...

LAUREN BOEBERT: And this is intentional. In fact, their policy is a success. It's not a failure because this is their intent.

ANDY BIGGS: And it's being done intentionally, at least as far as having the border open and the ramifications.

ROSE: Those are Republican representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andy Biggs of Arizona. Democrats, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, reject those allegations. In fact, the border is not open. There have been a record number of migrant apprehensions over the last two years. The Biden administration has allowed some migrants to seek asylum, which is legal, but it's also adding new enforcement measures aimed at cutting the number of illegal crossings. Still, Republicans keep repeating the claim that Mayorkas is deliberately undermining border security, and experts on impeachment say there's a reason for that language.

JOSHUA MATZ: The strongest and clearest case for impeachment is in cases of intentional misconduct.

ROSE: Joshua Matz is a lawyer who advised Democrats in Congress during the impeachment of former President Trump twice. He's also co-written a book about impeachment titled "To End A Presidency." Matz says Republicans are trying to show that this is more than just a normal disagreement over border policy.

MATZ: They want to dress all of that up into an argument that there's some deep, underlying intentional policy of essentially failing to administer the southern border and failing to exercise the powers of his office, that they would then characterize as impeachable.

ROSE: Matz thinks that's a big stretch unless one of the congressional investigations turns up some damaging information. Democrats who know Mayorkas say that's not likely. Cecilia Munoz worked closely with the secretary as a policy adviser during the Obama administration.

CECILIA MUNOZ: Secretary Mayorkas is one of the most principled public servants I've ever met. And he's going to handle this with real dignity, I think.

ROSE: Munoz says Mayorkas' critics are abusing the impeachment process.

MUNOZ: This is about politics. What's happening is that we have a challenging situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Republicans want to play politics with it.

ROSE: Since the election of former President Trump, Republicans have increasingly talked about asylum-seekers and refugees as a threat and a burden. Here's Representative James Comer of Kentucky again.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CAVUTO LIVE")

COMER: Mayorkas should have enough pride to resign. He should have enough shame. He's put Americans at risk. He's failed to secure the border. He should go. He should want to go. He should say, look; I've been a failure, and I'm leaving.

ROSE: Comer and other Republicans acknowledge that even if the House votes to impeach Mayorkas, the Senate is unlikely to convict. Still, the GOP could make his life difficult over the coming months. But Mayorkas has given no indication that he'll step down. Here he is last month on ABC's "This Week."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS")

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So you have no intention of resigning?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: I do not. I've got a lot of work to do, and we're going to do it.

ROSE: Speaking to reporters earlier this month, Mayorkas said he takes great exception to the allegations of intentional misconduct. Mayorkas said he does not take the impeachment push personally, but he does intend to make sure it fails.

Joel Rose, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS SONG, "UNDER THE BRIDGE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.