A group of right-wing Republicans unveiled articles of impeachment Wednesday against US President Joe Biden's homeland security secretary over his handling of the southern border -- launching a rare process last used successfully against a cabinet official almost 150 years ago.
Alejandro Mayorkas has long been in Republicans' crosshairs over what they describe as a worsening immigration crisis, with record numbers of mainly South and Central Americans trying to get into the United States from neighboring Mexico.
They accuse him of ceding "operational control" over the border and criticize Democratic attempts to eliminate public health provisions that restricted asylum-seeking during the pandemic, as well as the termination of contracts for border wall construction.
"What you're seeing is the systematic destruction of the geographical integrity of the United States of America," said far right congressman Andy Biggs, who introduced the resolution.
"We don't control our southern border. It is controlled by the criminal drug cartels of Mexico."
It was his second bid to impeach Mayorkas -- following an initial attempt in 2021, when Democrats still had control of the lower chamber of Congress.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose hold over his deeply-divided party is historically precarious, is under pressure from the far right to bring the impeachment resolution to the floor for a vote.
Only one cabinet official has been impeached -- Secretary of War William W. Belknap, in 1876. He was acquitted by the Senate.
The latest move could result in impeachment by the House but there is no chance of Mayorkas being convicted and removed from office in the trial that would follow in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The US Customs and Border Protection reported 2.8 million total enforcement actions at the border in fiscal year 2022, which ended in September -- more than twice the 2019 figure, four times as many as in 2020 and a 41 percent increase over 2021.
"These numbers make clear that the Biden administration does not have operational control of the border," Jim Jordan, chairman of the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee said earlier at a hearing entitled "The Biden Border Crisis: Part I."
Biden visited the border in January, announcing a new immigration plan that would allow 30,000 migrants in total from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter monthly if they apply from their home country and have a US sponsor.