Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faced fresh attacks Tuesday from Republican senators, who cited reports of migrant child labor exploitation to renew calls for his impeachment. The DHS secretary has long been a target for Republicans critical of the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies, but GOP members appeared to open a new front over reports that many underage migrants are working grim jobs at U.S. slaughterhouses, construction sites and auto parts plants. Republican senators angrily denounced Mayorkas in sometimes-personal terms during a committee hearing on the 2024 DHS budget request, pledging to hold a vote of no confidence in his leadership, the Washington Post reports.
“Thousands of children are in physical danger. Danger because of what you are doing,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), shouting and shaking a finger at Mayorkas. “And if you cannot change course, you should be removed from office.” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said he had drafted a resolution he would introduce “in the coming days” that would trigger a vote of no confidence. “You are derelict in your duties. I would be derelict to not do something about this,” Marshall told Mayorkas, saying he stood ready “to conduct an impeachment trial.” Republican leaders in the House have also threatened to remove Mayorkas. While such proceedings would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to oust the DHS secretary, they would drive attention to border and immigration issues that tend to favor the GOP. Soon after President Biden took office, his administration said it would exempt unaccompanied minors from the pandemic-era border restrictions used by the Trump administration to rapidly turn back migrants or return them to their home countries. Biden officials were soon overwhelmed as record numbers of teens and children crossed into the U.S. without their parents, cramming into makeshift border shelters. Mayorkas defended his record, saying the Biden administration has been working to reduce illegal border crossings by creating more legal channels for migrants to come to the U.S. while addressing the “root causes” driving people to flee, including poverty, violence and repression.