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HomeNewsMontana NewsMontana AG urges Congress to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas

Montana AG urges Congress to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas

(The Center Square) – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen testified on Wednesday before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security about how border policies implemented by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have caused Montanans to die and emboldened cartel criminal activity.

Knudsen cited examples of how he said Mayorkas has violated his oath of office and urged Congress to impeach him. He testified at the first hearing held this month called for the purpose of impeaching Mayorkas.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Knudsen described how “Mayorkas’ failed leadership has impacted states like mine” and “turned the border into an effectively meaningless 2,000-mile line in the sand, ceding operational control to Mexican drug cartels – some of the most savage and depraved organizations in world history. In turn, the cartels have seized on Secretary Mayorkas’ weakness, driving addiction and death in our country, expanding their enterprises into human trafficking and smuggling, and engaging in a reign of terror in communities on both sides of the border …”

Since Mayorkas began implementing policies contrary to laws established by Congress, “it has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion as our citizens fall victim to violent crime, become addicted to drugs and, in hundreds of thousands of cases, die because Secretary Mayorkas is derelict in his duty to secure the border,” Knudsen said.

Montanans have been devastated by the flow of fentanyl and methamphetamine pouring into the state from the southern border, he said. Under the Trump administration, in 2020, drug task forces seized 6,663 dosage units of fentanyl statewide. In 2021, in Mayorkas’ first year in office, “that quantity exploded ten-fold to 61,000. In 2022, we tripled that, seizing nearly 190,000 dosage units. The numbers aren’t finalized for 2023, but as of the third quarter, we were on track to seize nearly one half-million dosage units of fentanyl and yet another 200 pounds of methamphetamine,” he said.

“This is a staggering amount of drugs for a northern-tier state with just over one million residents – and the cartels trafficked 100% of that fentanyl and methamphetamine across the southern border. Once it crosses, it can be in Montana within 24 hours and it has a deadly effect on our communities, especially reservations.”

Knudsen cited examples of Native Americans being killed from fentanyl while living on the Blackfeet Indian and Fort Peck Indian reservations, adding, “the opioid overdose death rate among Native Americans is twice as high than it is for white people.”

Mayorkas’ “refusal to faithfully execute the laws” is also directly linked with border-related crimes committed in Montana, he said. In a current drug case, a suspect was “taking delivery of drugs that were being supplied directly from Mexico” and “had a minor daughter living in a shed who was sexually assaulted by the man delivering the drugs.” In another case, “a young mother who was homeless was able to find a bedroom in a house, not knowing that the room had been recently occupied by a fentanyl user.” Shortly after moving in, her 11-month-old child stopped breathing. The child’s life was saved by medical and law enforcement personnel who administered naloxone in time.

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, D-New Jersey, said the reason drugs are pouring into the country is because there is a demand for it and the U.S. should implement a “Just say no” campaign similar to the one former First Lady Nancy Reagan launched in the 1980s.

Knudsen said Mayorkas’ policies don’t “end with the proliferation of drugs into Montana communities” but also facilitate human smuggling and trafficking. He pointed to one law enforcement operation where three Central American men were arrested. All were in the U.S. illegally “but on deferred action” because of DHS policies. One, who’d previously been deported, was apprehended after illegally reentering the U.S. but wasn’t deported, he said. “These men were all here and able to engage in this criminal activity because of the policies Secretary Mayorkas has implemented at the Department of Homeland Security.”

He also expressed alarm about the northern border not being secure because Mayorkas is redeploying Border Patrol agents from the north to the south, leaving the 545 miles of shared Montana-Canadian border wide open.

“Adding insult to injury, the redeployed personnel were not there to help secure the border, but to process and more quickly release illegal aliens into the interior of our country,” Knudsen said. “The redeployments forced stations at the northern border cut back on patrols, and curtail participation in joint law enforcement operations, ultimately lessening their effectiveness to disrupt cross-border smuggling.”

While the administration has said it needs more funding from Congress to hire more personnel, Knudsen said “the reality is that no amount of funding or resources will change the status quo as long as Secretary Mayorkas is in charge.”

Mayorkas was negligent, not incompetent, he said, because he is “willfully and intentionally failing to enforce our nation’s immigration laws” and “violated his oath of office and breached the trust placed in him by the American people.”

Knudsen was among the first AGs to join a coalition expressing alarm about cartel border-related crime and has sued the Biden administration multiple times. Referring to the many legal battles in which Mayorkas has tried “to stop states from defending the border,” Knudsen said, “there’s an obvious difference between exercising discretion and complete abdication. The courts may not be able to hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable for violating his oath of office, but this body can and should.

“Impeachment is a serious and solemn process. It isn’t to be taken lightly or used to settle mere policy disagreements. But the Framers understood that impeachment is an appropriate response if members of the executive branch abdicate their duties or statutory responsibilities. The conclusion is clear: Secretary Mayorkas has violated his oath of office and the consequences have been dire. I urge this body to impeach.”

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