HomePoliticsImpeachment effort will only complicate the immigration puzzle | CNN Politics

Impeachment effort will only complicate the immigration puzzle | CNN Politics

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Immigration, always simmering in the American political conversation, could take on new importance with a “surge” at the border, the end of Title 42, a doomed impeachment effort and the slim possibility of a bipartisan win before the year is done.

One guarantee is that when Republicans take control of the House in January, you’re going to hear a lot more about the border and President Joe Biden’s top Homeland Security official.

A description by a top border agent in El Paso, Texas, of a “major surge in illegal crossings” this weekend came ahead of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ trip to the border on Tuesday.

And the increase in border crossings comes days before the Trump-era Covid-19 policy the Biden administration had used to keep many migrants out of the US expires.

Officials have warned that migrants camped across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, may try to cross as soon as the policy, known as Title 42, is officially rescinded following a court order. The policy has been used to turn away migrants at the border more than 2 million times.

The Biden administration has asked Congress for more than $3 billion to prepare for the expected increase in border crossings.

Read a full report from CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez.

Back in Washington, the far-right flank of the GOP, itching to impeach Mayorkas since not long after he took office, renewed their pressure campaign in a press conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

They want the incoming Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee to launch an impeachment investigation of Mayorkas ASAP in early January.

While it’s not yet clear what “high crimes and misdemeanors” Mayorkas would have committed to justify impeachment, it would be an unprecedented use of impeachment power to go after a Cabinet secretary for what amounts to pursuing Biden administration policy.

Only one Cabinet secretary has ever been impeached: former Secretary of War William Belknap, all the way back in 1876.

Belknap’s is a Gilded Age tale of corruption, financial payoffs and a weeping resignation. The allegation against Mayorkas is not that he is corrupt, but that he is not executing the law as Republicans feel he should.

While their alleged crimes are very different, any impeachment effort against Mayorkas would likely end similarly: Belknap was acquitted in a Senate trial. Democrats, controlling the Senate majority, would surely do the same if Republicans could even muster the majority needed to impeach Mayorkas.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who wants to be the next House speaker and is still trying to win over the right-wing lawmakers who want to impeach Mayorkas, has promised only an investigation to see if impeachment is warranted. McCarthy would rather just see Mayorkas resign, although there’s no indication Mayorkas will.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure. And we will determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said during his own trip to the border in November.

Simply launching an investigation is not enough for GOP Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, who said Tuesday that one reason he opposes making McCarthy speaker is McCarthy’s reticence to commit to impeaching Mayorkas.

Meanwhile, there’s been some talk of a bipartisan push in the waning days of the year to finally deliver protection to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children and have lived most of their lives as Americans.

You’ve heard them referred to as “Dreamers” or DACA recipients,” named after previous failed legislation and executive action by then-President Barack Obama that was put in jeopardy by former President Donald Trump.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently announced she’s leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent, and Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, have been working on a bipartisan proposal, although there is little time left this year.

The legislation, which also authorizes at least $25 billion to $40 billion for border security and extends Title 42 for at least a year, is meant to give DACA recipients some clarity and a pathway to citizenship. Read more from this December 5 report by Alvarez and CNN’s Daniella Diaz.

Because the proposed compromise – there are not yet any concrete details – extends Title 42, it would likely have to pass without help from some Democrats who have long opposed that Trump-era policy, which means passing it this year will be a heavy lift.

“It’s unlikely to happen before the end of the year, and even next year it’s going to be very hard,” Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican, told the Texas Tribune.

One interesting tidbit out of CNN’s post-election poll released on Monday is that while Americans expect Republicans’ ascendance to the House majority to have a positive impact on the economy and cut down on government spending, they also expect a harmful impact on immigration laws (32% positive, 41% negative).

People are more closely split on how the new GOP majority will affect oversight of the Biden administration (35% positive, 38% negative).

Immigration has been an impossible puzzle for years. Biden’s is the fourth successive presidency during which lawmakers have failed to settle on a comprehensive policy to deal with both migrants at the border and people who have lived most of their lives within the country. Resolving those problems seems unlikely, but there will definitely be a lot more focus on the border.

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