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Alejandro Mayorkas on border: ‘We don’t bear responsibility for a broken system’

House Republicans are attempting to impeach the Department of Homeland Security chief, saying he has violated his oath of office by contributing to a crisis along the southern border.
Image: DHS Secretary Mayorkas Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee
Alejandro Mayorkas during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on Nov. 16, 2021.Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday blamed House Republicans for record-high migrant crossings at the southern border after they voted largely along party lines to sink the bipartisan border security bill that included foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

During an interview on NBC News' “Meet the Press,” Mayorkas was asked by moderator Kristen Welker whether he bears responsibility for the overwhelming number of migrants trying to cross the border and the backlog of asylum claims, which President Joe Biden has called a “crisis.”

“It certainly is a crisis and we don’t bear responsibility for a broken system, and we’re dealing a tremendous amount within that broken system,” he said. “But fundamentally, Congress is the only one who can fix it.”

Pressed by Welker about whether he agrees with Biden that the border isn’t “secure,” Mayorkas said, “There is no question that we have a broken system,” and reiterated his call for Congress to take action.

“There is no question that Congress needs to fix it, and we’re doing everything we can within that broken system short of legislation to address what is not just a challenge for the United States, but one throughout our region,” he said.

NBC News reported that Biden is considering taking executive action to deter illegal migration at the border. Welker noted Republicans’ calls for Biden to shut down the border before asking Mayorkas, “Why doesn’t the president just shut down the border and let the courts just try to stop him?”

Mayorkas said that the administration has taken several steps and continues to “review what options are available to us.” He then argued that issues at the border would have been addressed with the bipartisan border security bill, which Republicans had killed less than 48 hours after its text was released.

“A bipartisan group of senators have now presented us with the tools and resources we need — a bipartisan group — and yet Congress killed it before even reading it,” he said.

Mayorkas narrowly survived an impeachment vote in the House last week, when three Republican lawmakers broke with their party to sink the resolution.

But on Friday, House GOP leaders indicated they could bring a new impeachment vote to the floor as soon as Tuesday.

Mayorkas has served as secretary of homeland security in the Biden administration since 2021 and as deputy secretary of homeland security for three years in the Obama administration.

Ahead of last Tuesday’s failed impeachment vote, Biden denounced the GOP’s effort, telling NBC News in a statement that impeaching Mayorkas “would be an unprecedented and unconstitutional act of political retribution that would do nothing to solve the challenges our Nation faces in securing the border.”

It’s still not clear that Republicans will have the votes this week to impeach Mayorkas, but the expected return of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who was away receiving cancer treatment, is likely to shift the math in favor of passage.

On Saturday, Wisconsin GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher, who was one of the three Republicans to vote against impeaching the secretary and who faced scrutiny from other members of his party for that decision, announced he would not run for re-election.