In 2nd attempt, US House votes to impeach Jewish Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., Dec. 6, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

By Ron Kampeas
February 14, 2024

WASHINGTON (JTA) — On its second try, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by a single vote, in a process some Jewish groups said was tainted by antisemitic rhetoric.

The impeachment of Mayorkas, who is Jewish, passed Tuesday on party lines by a vote of 214-213, with three Republicans breaking ranks. The effort, however, is likely going nowhere, because the Democratic-led Senate may not take it up, and if it does, there are nowhere near the 67 votes necessary to convict and remove Mayorkas, the first cabinet secretary impeached in nearly 150 years.

The first attempt at impeachment last week narrowly failed, a setback for House Speaker Mike Johnson, the Louisiana Republican whose short tenure has been marked by a number of lost votes.

Jewish groups have expressed alarm at the impeachment process, noting repeated invocations during the impeachment hearings of the Great Replacement, a baseless conspiracy theory whose original version claims Jews are behind an effort to replace the populations of majority-white countries with immigrants of color.

Following Tuesday’s impeachment vote, Amy Spitalnick, the CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a liberal community relations body, noted in a statement how the theory has in recent years spurred mass murders, including a number targeting Jews.

“We’ve seen the deadly consequences of the ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ rhetoric that underpinned this impeachment effort – directly fueling violence in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Poway, El Paso, Buffalo, and beyond,” Spitalnick said. “This dehumanizing bigotry puts all our lives at risk, yet House leaders once again cynically doubled down on it to score political points while making our communities less safe.”

A record number of migrants have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border recently, and Republicans say the border is out of control because Mayorkas is willfully ignoring existing laws. They say amounts to the high crime and misdemeanors necessary for impeachment.

“Secretary Mayorkas has willfully and consistently refused to comply with federal immigration laws, fueling the worst border catastrophe in American history,” Johnson said in a statement after the vote.

Democrats say Mayorkas is carrying out policy, which does not meet any criminal standard, and that he has scored successes.

“Make no mistake — the Secretary has not committed an impeachable offense,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Jewish New Yorker who is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary committee, said on X, formerly Twitter. “Republicans don’t want to fix the border, they want to do Trump’s bidding and use it as a campaign issue.”

Former President Donald Trump, who is running again this year, urged Republicans to impeach Mayorkas. He also urged his party to reject a bipartisan border security compromise negotiated in the Senate.

The timing of the vote was significant. If a special election Tuesday in a Long Island District sends a Democrat to the House, impeachment likely would not have been possible.

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