Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – one of the GOP’s top targets in the Biden administration – will face lawmakers on Tuesday in the first of a series of hearings this week as Republicans prepare to escalate their attacks against him.
While control of the House remains undecided, Republican lawmakers have already singled out Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security among the targets of their investigations if they seize the majority, with much of their criticism centered on the administration’s handling of the US-Mexico border.
Some Republicans have also floated the possibility of impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas.
Tuesday’s hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee will offer a glimpse of the attacks Republicans are expected to lob at Mayorkas and where their focus will be.
The top Republican on the panel, John Katko of New York, has described the situation along the US southern border as an “unprecedented crisis” and criticized the administration’s approach.
The US Border Patrol made over 2.2 million arrests in fiscal year 2022 for unlawful crossings on the US-Mexico border, the highest annual number of apprehensions on record though many have also been turned back to Mexico or their home countries.
Still, the staggering numbers and recent forced resignation of US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Christopher Magnus will likely be raised. Magnus had been asked to resign by Mayorkas last week, according to two sources familiar with the matter. He submitted his resignation to Biden on Saturday, which was effective immediately.
Magnus has been criticized internally for being out of touch with the agency and publicly for the handling of the US-Mexico border. During his tenure, officials also told CNN they believed Magnus seemed disengaged and wasn’t joining some internal meetings at a critical time for the agency. CBP Deputy Commissioner Troy Miller is now serving as the acting commissioner.
But the hearing before the House panel goes beyond border security. The hearing will also touch on international terrorism, domestic terrorism, cyber threats and election security, according to Adam Comis, a committee spokesman. FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid will also testify alongside Mayorkas.
There were only a handful of documented cyberattacks aimed at election-related infrastructure on Election Day, but nothing that kept people from casting their vote, according to US officials. But foreign influence activity – the use of social media or other means to sway voters – is harder to measure.
But Jen Easterly, the head of US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has expressed concern over foreign operatives using the days and week between Election Day and when votes are certified – including the leadup to a contentious Senate runoff in Georgia — to further amplify disinformation about voting and sow discord among Americans.
Mayorkas will also appear before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week.