NBC news host Kristen Welker asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas point-blank on Sunday if he deserved to keep his job over the crisis at the southern border.
“You have now been in your position for three years and let’s talk about what’s happened during those three years. More migrants have crossed the border illegally last year than ever before. The asylum cases backlog has more than tripled since 2019. You yourself have said that more than 85% of migrants crossing the border illegally are being released into the U.S. as they await their court dates. Let’s just put impeachment aside for a minute. Why do you deserve to keep your job, Mr. Secretary?” Welker asked.
Mayorkas said the data Welker cited was a “powerful example” of why legislation was needed to fix a broken immigration system.
“Let’s take a look before the last three years. That case backlog, which is about 3 million cases has been growing year over year over year. The time between when we encounter an individual at the boarder and the time of final adjudication of an asylum case has been years. Five to seven years, for years and years. I remember when I entered the Department of Homeland Security in 2009, we were wrestling with these very same issues,” he added.
Welker also asked about the House GOP’s efforts to impeach Mayorkas, and said they were “serious allegations.”
“They’re baseless allegations, Kristen, and that’s why I am not distracted by them and focused on the work of the Department of Homeland Security. I’m inspired every single day by the remarkable work that 260,000 men and women in our department perform on behalf of the American public. I’ve got a busy day today after the show, a busy day of work. I’ve got a busy day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on,” he responded during his media appearance.
The NBC News host further questioned Mayorkas on whether he bears some responsibility for the crisis at the border.
“It certainly is a crisis, and we don’t bear responsibility for a broken system, and we’re doing a tremendous amount within that broken system, but fundamentally, fundamentally, Congress is the only one who can fix it,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas appeared to dodge when asked if he stood by his previous claims on the border being secure.
“There is no question that we have a broken system. There is no question that we have a challenge, a crisis at the border and 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 a — not just a challenge for the United States, but one throughout our region,” he said in response to a question about Biden’s assertion that the southern border was not secure.
House Republicans failed to impeach Mayorkas last week in a 216-214 vote. Lawmakers voted on a resolution combining two articles of impeachment that accused Mayorkas of having “refused to comply with Federal immigration laws” and the other of having violated “public trust.”
The Republican majority held hearings throughout 2023 on Mayorkas’ “dereliction of duty” and additional hearings on the impeachment articles themselves earlier this year. Lawmakers accused Mayorkas of disregarding federal law with “open border policies” that have made the ongoing crisis at the southern border worse.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report.