The House failed to impeach Mayorkas, and the Senate killed a bipartisan border bill – What does this mean for immigration?

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club on Sept. 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo Courtesy Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

By Maria Pemberton

Boston University News Service

Congress struggled to address the immigration crisis with both a failed impeachment and the death of a bipartisan border bill last week. 

House Republicans impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a 214 to 213 vote on Tuesday. This was the second impeachment, following one last week that didn’t succeed in a 214 to 216 vote. It is unlikely that the impeachment will pass in the Democrat-majority Senate.

The GOP targeted Mayorkas for the influx of migrant crossings under the Biden administration. Since Biden became president, 2.3 million migrants have entered the country at the southern border, according to the Boston Globe

Four republicans previously voted “no” to the impeachment, a devastating blow as the Republicans hold a slim majority in the House. This impeachment required significant unity in the GOP, which they were unable to initially find last week.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) voted against the impeachment last week, citing that Mayorkas’ mishandling of the border does not qualify as a criminal offense.

“Impeachment would not only fail to resolve Mr. Biden’s border crisis but also set a dangerous new precedent that will be used against future Republican administrations,” said Gallagher in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

Mayorkas’ impeachment preceded the failure of a bipartisan border bill to pass in the Senate on Wednesday. According to CNN, the $20 billion border bill would have barred the number of migrant crossings to an average of 5,000 crossings per day, which is the first time a numerical limit has been set at the border. In addition, procedural asylum screenings would be reformed. 

Though the bill was worked on by both parties, former President Donald Trump encouraged Republicans to vote against it. 

“Only a fool, or a Radical Left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous Border Bill, which only gives Shutdown Authority after 5000 Encounters a day, when we already have the right to CLOSE THE BORDER NOW,” Trump wrote on Truth Social

While immigration reform was a hot topic last week, clear party lines prove as a difficulty when formulating passable border provisions. Congress has not passed significant legislation addressing the border crisis in two decades, and in the face of the 2024 presidential election, it will likely be up to voters to decide how the problem is handled. 

Much of the action taken at the border has been through presidential executive orders, which will serve as a campaigning strength for Trump in the upcoming election. According to ABC, American adults said that they trust Republicans to do a better job handling immigration than Democrats.

Though Congress struggles to agree on how to handle immigration, President Joe Biden advocates for a bipartisan border agreement. 

“For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it,” Biden said in a statement, “If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it.”

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