Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas should resign by Jan. 3 or possibly face impeachment over his alleged mishandling of the migrant influx at the Southwest border, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in El Paso on Tuesday.

Calling the migrant influx the past year the “worst border crisis in U.S. history,” McCarthy said House Republicans will investigate Mayorkas by looking at “every order, every action and every failure. We’ll determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.”

In a statement, the spokesperson for Mayorkas said the secretary will not resign. 

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people,” the DHS statement said. “He has no plans to resign.”

McCarthy is the Republican nominee for speaker once the GOP takes control of the House in January, though it remains unknown if he has the votes necessary to be elected.

Speaking at the U.S. Border Patrol complex in Northeast El Paso, McCarthy cited record migrant encounters at the border, a rise in fentanyl seizures at the border and Mayorkas’ assertion that the border is secure as reasons he should resign. 

“Just last week, Secretary Mayorkas testified under oath that yes, the border is secure. I’m here to tell you it is not,” McCarthy said, adding that the country is “bracing for a tsunami” when Title 42 ends in about a month.

Title 42 is a pandemic health policy that the United States has been using since 2020 to expel migrants who crossed the border without documents. The policy is set to end by judicial order on Dec. 21, which means those same migrants must be admitted into the country. A federal judge in Washington on Nov. 15 struck down the use of the policy but extended its use by five weeks at the request of the Biden administration.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents El Paso, dismissed McCarthy’s criticisms.

“Leader McCarthy’s threat to impeach Secretary Mayorkas does nothing to improve the situation at our border, and his visit to El Paso today was more of the what Republicans have been doing at the border for years: they parachute in, use the border as a photo-op, and their only solution is to champion more of their same failed, expensive policies that address immigration as a border-only issue,” she said.

Escobar said she will continue to focus on fighting for funding and on reforms that will help both agents and migrants.

“I hope Republican members of Congress one day soon decide to act legislatively instead of performatively,” she said.

Migrants who left the tent city on the Juárez bank of the Rio Grande to turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents last week are seated with mylar blankets while they await processing. Many migrants crossed the border a week ago hopeful that Title 42 had been lifted. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

The Southwest border saw a record number of migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022, which ended in September, with border enforcement agents reporting 2.7 million encounters – up 1.9 million over the previous fiscal year. However, a significant number of those were people who entered and were expelled multiple times under Title 42.

McCarthy, 57, of California, has been nominated by the Republican caucus to serve as speaker of the House when Congress starts its new session in January. That comes after Republicans narrowly won the House majority in the Nov. 8 elections.

If elected to the post, he would replace Nancy Pelosi, 82. The first woman to serve in that post, Pelosi said she’ll step down from leadership roles in January but will remain in Congress.

The call for Mayorkas’ resignation comes after U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus, 62, resigned on Nov. 12. Magnus in a statement told the New York Times that Mayorkas asked him to resign or be fired.

During his stop in El Paso, McCarthy and six other Republican Congress members received an operational field briefing and visited with U.S. Border Patrol agents and other border law enforcement employees in the region. He was accompanied by Republican Texas representatives Tony Gonzales, Brian Babin, Dan Crenshaw and August Pfluger. 

U.S. Reps. Kat Cammock from Florida and Mark Green from Tennessee were also on the tour.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy called for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a press conference at the U.S. Border Patrol complex in Northeast El Paso on Tuesday. (Ramon Bracamontes/El Paso Matters)

Gonzales, who represents the 23rd Congressional District that encompasses a portion of far East El Paso County and most of the Texas-Mexico border, said the House plans to have hearings along the Southwest border to get a first-hand look at the immigration problem.

He will try to have one of those hearings in El Paso.

“Change is coming, change is now,” Gonzales said of the switch in the House majority from Democrats to Republicans.

On a call with reporters last week, Escobar said the new power structure in Washington would likely pose new challenges to immigration reform and working with border cities who are bearing the brunt of what she calls a humanitarian crisis.

“It’s going to be a tougher climb after January,” Escobar said.

Title 42 has been used as a “border management tool,” and its end will restore the legal rights of migrants to request asylum.

Escobar said the border has become “almost unmanageable” because there has not been comprehensive immigration reform in nearly 30 years. “And there’s only one body that can change federal laws, and that is Congress. It is deeply frustrating for me to hear my colleagues call on the administration to do something about immigration when that is a legislative function.” 

On Tuesday, Escobar asked leaders in the Appropriations Committee that El Paso be prioritized for funding for a joint processing center to increase CBP’s capacity to process migrants. In a letter to the committee, Escobar said CBP could use 60 acres of land purchased from the city of El Paso in 2021 for the facility.

Ramon Bracamontes

Ramon Bracamontes is editor of El Paso Matters.

El Paso native Cindy Ramirez has spent most of her career in journalism, with some stints in public and media relations and military reporting. She's covered everything from education to local government...