189,922 — that is the number of illegal crossings that occurred at our southern border in the month of February alone, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Not only is that number up 21% from last February, but it was also the highest February ever recorded in our history.

February’s record number of illegal crossings marked the seventh consecutive month of the highest number of encounters those months had ever seen. On top of this, there have been 36 straight months with higher encounters at the southern border than any month under former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

These numbers are shocking, but unfortunately, they have become a regular occurrence under the leadership of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has overseen the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. 

On Feb. 13, the House of Representatives agreed to articles of impeachment against Mayorkas for his “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and his “breach of public trust.” The House is expected to send these articles over to the Senate. I firmly believe that the Senate must conduct a full impeachment trial for Mayorkas.

First and foremost, the Biden-Mayorkas DHS has failed to uphold the law and secure our borders. This broad and willful effort by the Biden administration to open our borders began on day one of this administration when President Joe Biden ended successful Trump-era policies, such as contracts to build the border wall, the “Remain in Mexico” or “Migrant Protection Protocols” program, and Safe Third Country agreements.

The numbers certainly don’t lie. Since Biden took office, there have been more than 9.2 million illegal border crossings. Or, put another way, the average monthly encounters have increased by almost 400% under the Biden administration.

For his part, Mayorkas has abused the parole process, expanding the program more than any prior administration, which has led to more than 1 million illegal immigrants coming into our country who would otherwise be inadmissible. Parole is supposed to be granted on a “case-by-case” basis, but under Mayorkas’s leadership, DHS has created categorical parole programs to give entry to immigrants from many South American and Caribbean countries with minimal vetting. 

The Biden-Mayorkas DHS has also abused the asylum process, expanding eligibility to admit a record number of asylum-seekers, exacerbating the decadelong backlog in our immigration court system. This ensures that anyone who enters our country and passes the very low screening standard will be here for years without any fear of deportation.

Individuals such as Jose Antonio Ibarra, who was arrested after the brutal, senseless slaying of nursing student Laken Riley in Georgia, are a reminder that Mayorkas’s catch-and-release policies have allowed the catastrophe at our southern border to affect every community.

Just as disturbing is the fact that hundreds of people on the terrorist watchlist have crossed our border — and these are just the ones we are aware of. There are likely many more.

To put this into perspective, from fiscal 2017 to 2020, Border Patrol encountered 11 people on the terrorist watchlist crossing our southern border. In fiscal 2023, Border Patrol encountered 169, and it has already encountered 69 this fiscal year. Not knowing who is in our country is a national security crisis.

Additionally, the drugs flowing across our border are responsible for fueling the addiction epidemic that has devastated communities across this country, including in my state of West Virginia, where it is estimated that during calendar year 2023, 1,327 residents died at the hands of illicit drugs.

At the national level, the numbers are just as startling. According to CBP, agents seized 27,293 pounds of poisonous fentanyl coming across the southern border in fiscal 2023. That amount of fentanyl is enough to kill close to 6 million people. 

For all these reasons, I firmly believe that a full impeachment trial against Mayorkas should be conducted. 

The Senate has a constitutional duty to uphold. Our Constitution gives the Senate a responsibility and duty “to try all impeachments” and requires a two-thirds majority for conviction — a high standard for a serious constitutional process. For every impeachment in our history, the Senate has held some form of a trial — unless the federal officer resigned prior to trial. 

The impeachment of Mayorkas is only the second time in our history that the House has impeached a Cabinet officer. This is not routine business — this is a serious moment.

The House’s articles make serious allegations and detail the crisis we have all seen unfolding for more than three years. It is unconscionable for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Democrats to dismiss these charges without allowing the Senate to hear the evidence and vote on whether Mayorkas is guilty and should be convicted or acquitted.

Nevertheless, the decision to take up these articles of impeachment lies with Schumer and the Democrats. They must do the right thing and conduct a full trial.


Shelley Moore Capito is a senator from West Virginia and is a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. Capito also serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the fifth-ranking Republican in the Senate.