Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas waved away criticism from lawmakers calling for his impeachment on Friday, saying that his critics' rhetoric about the border being "open" was inspiring further illegal immigration.
A group of Republican lawmakers — led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — demanded Mayorkas resign after Fox News reported he was alerted to an article stating that no Haitian migrants were "whipped" by Border Patrol agents on Sept. 19, 2021.
"I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I intend to continue to do it. That’s my response," Mayorkas told the Dallas Morning News editorial board Friday.
Mayorkas told the Dallas Morning News, "The political cry that the border is open is music to the smugglers’ ears, because they take that political rhetoric and they market it."
Mayorkas came under even more intense scrutiny after emails obtained by the Heritage Foundation via FOIA filing showed the homeland security secretary was informed that reports of whipping at the border were likely inaccurate.
The email, which was sent on Sept. 24, 2021, by Marsha Espinosa, assistant secretary of DHS public affairs, alerted Mayorkas and other officials within DHS, pointing them to a news article with quotes from a photographer behind the images showing Border Patrol agents on horseback, and he denies ever seeing agents "whipping anyone."
However, Mayorkas joined White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a White House press conference, where he continued to push the narrative:
"Our nation saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation's ongoing battle against systemic racism," Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas, earlier in the week, had spoken alongside Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, and had defended the agents – even pointing out that agents use long reins to control their horses, not as whips. But by the end of the week, that clarification was abandoned.
An investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility in July found that no migrants were struck by reins and there were no whips in possession of the Border Patrol agents, but found other alleged infractions, including using "denigrating and offensive" language to migrants and maneuvering a horse around a child in a manner that was "unsafe." Agents were also accused of using "unnecessary use of force" to push the migrants back.
The investigation is still ongoing more than a year later, but findings by the Office of Professional Responsibility in July found that no whips were in their possession and no migrant was struck by the reins – although it did find other alleged infractions.
Fox News' Bill Melugin and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.