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The Senate impeachment trial of Mayorkas has been delayed. Here's what to know

The impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been pushed into at least next week.
Santiago Billy
/
AP
The impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been pushed into at least next week.

Updated April 9, 2024 at 4:25 PM ET

House Republicans are delaying their plan to begin an impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Impeachment managers were set to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday, but now that process will be pushed until at least next week following requests from Republican senators who wanted more time to prepare for a trial.

Taylor Haulsee, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., issued a statement on the plans: "To ensure the Senate has adequate time to perform its constitutional duty, the House will transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week. There is no reason whatsoever for the Senate to abdicate its responsibility to hold an impeachment trial."

Johnson's office has not said exactly when they now plan to transmit the articles to the Senate.

Many Senate Republicans began raising objection to the timeline on Tuesday at a weekly party luncheon. They argued that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was planning to move to quickly dismiss the charges and they wanted more time to combat his strategy.

Schumer and other Democrats have dismissed the entire impeachment process as a political show by Republicans. Schumer has not directly addressed plans to dismiss the charges.

"We're going to try to resolve this issue as quickly as possible," Schumer told reporters before the delay was announced. "Impeachment should never be used to settle policy disagreements."

At the center of the procedural fight is the U.S.-Mexico border and the people who have crossed it in record numbers. Republicans accuse Mayorkas of refusing to enforce immigration laws, Democrats say Republicans have a policy disagreement with the White House and impeachment isn't the way to address it.

What are the crimes Republicans say Mayorkas committed?

GOP members approved two articles of impeachment two months ago: one that accuses Mayorkas of violating laws related to immigration and border security and a second that accuses him of making false statements while under oath to Congress.

Specifically, the lawmakers argue Mayorkas opened up the possibility of parole resulting in an increase in migrants crossing the border under his time as secretary.

The Homeland Security Department, under U.S. immigration law, has the ability to grant "parole" to noncitizens seeking to be in the U.S. But this does not mean they are provided with an immigration status, or are formally admitted, according tothe American Immigration Council.

"This administration has, however, set a new record where the numbers of parole actions and the numbers of people paroled into the country are concerned," Doris Meissner a former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service who served under President Bill Clinton. "But that does not mean that they have violated the law. That establishes parole and provides the authority."

Meissner noted that past administrations have used parole in an expanded way. Past examples, she said, include when tens of thousands of Afghan migrants were granted parole after Kabul fell to the Taliban and a separate program under former President Barack Obama that provided the protection to some migrants from Central American countries.

How are Democrats responding?

Mia Ehrenberg, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, said in February after the House vote that the impeachment did not have a shred of evidence or legitimate constitutional grounds.In a memo, the DHS argues that parole has been used for decades in similar fashion and that Mayorkas testimonies are accurate.

"It comes down to the policy disagreement. This administration has taken the view that in an effort to create more orderly flows, the use of parole was an essential tool to make it possible for some nationality groups... as well as some ability to incentivize the use of ports of entry for people seeking asylum to come into the United States," Meissner said, noting that it is a solution option for overwhelmed and under resourced detention facilities and infrastructure. "The use of parole has been a tool that they have used. That is indisputable."

What comes next?

The House members tasked with prosecuting the trial, known as impeachment managers, need to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Senators will be sworn in as jurors on Thursday with Senate Pro Tempore Sen. Patty Murry, D-Wash., presiding over the trial.

House Republicans have called for a full trial, but Senate Democrats have avoided any commitments about what a trial will entail.

The House speaker and the House Republican impeachment managers specifically requested a full hearing of the evidence in a letter sent last month announcing their plans to transmit the articles to the Senate.

"We call upon you to fulfill your constitutional obligation to hold this trial," they wrote. "The American people demand a secure border, an end to this crisis, and accountability for those responsible. To table articles of impeachment without ever hearing a single argument or reviewing a piece of evidence would be a violation of our constitutional order and an affront to the American people whom we all serve."

But even some Senate Republicans have called impeachment"dead on arrival" and a "waste of time."

Even if a trial were to occur, the Senate is currently controlled by Democrats and it would take a two-thirds vote to convict and remove Mayorkas, which is highly unlikely.

Still, immigration and the methods for handling border crossings are also emerging as an issue as both political parties hit the campaign trail. A new survey released by Pew Research Center finds that Americans across all political ideologies believe that the government is doing a "bad job" of handling the rise in border crossings. However, there are divisions among party lines about most policy solutions, such as how to treat those seeking asylum.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.