(CNN) — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan criticized President Joe Biden’s border policies, referring to them as the “Biden border crisis” and describing them as “open border policies” as he opened a hearing Wednesday at which Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified.
“I know that today Secretary Mayorkas is going to try to paint a rosy picture of this disastrous mismanagement of our border,” Jordan said. “But the numbers don’t lie.”
While border crossings remain high, there have been fewer arrests in the area in recent weeks. In June, for example, Border Patrol apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants along the southern US border, a decline from May and the lowest number of monthly border encounters since February 2021, according to data from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
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Mayorkas faced off against House Republicans who have been laying the groundwork for potentially impeaching him over his handling of the US-Mexico border at a hearing on Wednesday. In his opening remarks, he argued that the government’s approach to the border is “working.”
“Our approach to managing the border safely and humanely, even within our fundamentally flawed immigration system, is working,” he said. “Illegal entries between ports of entry along the Southwest border have consistently decreased by more than half compared to the peak before the end of Title 42.”
In recent months, House Republicans have begun laying the groundwork for possible impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas, who they argue has failed to protect America’s southern border.
Less than an hour after the hearing began, House Democrats twice called out Republicans for seeking possible impeachment of Mayorkas.
“First of all, I want to make it clear that this is an oversight hearing, not an impeachment hearing,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. “This is a hearing to address the issues of the work that has been done, and to that end, just on a factual basis, there has been a lot of shouting about border entry and operational control.”
The hearing comes as House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, a Tennessee Republican, launched a five-phase investigation into Mayorkas.
Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, a former federal prosecutor and member of the hardline Freedom Caucus, has said he doesn’t believe criticism of Mayorkas has raised the bar to felony or misdemeanor. Buck’s comments highlight that despite public pressure to launch impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas, key reluctance remains, including from those on the judiciary panel that would be responsible for overseeing such an initiative. It is an example of the uphill battle within the Republican conference to reach a consensus on impeachment.
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Still, Buck sharply criticized Mayorkas at Wednesday’s hearing for the department’s handling of trafficking in fentanyl.
“When people die from fentanyl poisoning, it’s your fault,” he said.
Mayorkas responded by saying: “Congressman, we regret the loss of life as a result of fentanyl toxicity and the devastation it causes. The fentanyl challenge is not new. He has been climbing for over five years.”
“This is a scourge that we all need to work together against, and we at Homeland Security, with our federal partners, are addressing it to an unprecedented degree through innovative operations targeting criminals,” he added.
The handling of the US-Mexico border has been a constant point of contention between Republicans and President Joe Biden, whose administration has grappled with unprecedented migration in the Western Hemisphere. While border crossings remain high, the numbers dipped in June to the lowest number of monthly border encounters since February 2021.
Government officials have blamed a series of measures taken on the US-Mexico border, as well as new policies, for the dramatic drop in the number of border crossings. But the government’s actions have done little to calm Republicans, who continue to