Senator Ted Cruz introduced a proposal to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall between the United States and Mexico and it involves El Chapo. On Tuesday, the Texas Republican introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act to seize funds from the criminal prosecution of drug kingpins, including infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman.
Cruz, who went against Trump in the primaries, is now behind the wall and believes it will “keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border.”
“Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities,” Cruz said. “We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”
The U.S. Government is currently seeking the criminal forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits from El Chapo. U.S. authorities are alleging that between January 1989 and December 2014, Guzman was the leader of the organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel that was responsible for importing and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics into the United States which enabled him to have a vast and extravagant empire. Guzman was extradited to the United States in January and is awaiting federal trial for the crimes committed by the Sinaloa Cartel including drug manufacturing and trafficking, use of firearms, and money laundering. However, the Mexican government is said to have already seized a number of his possessions including 43 vehicles, 16 houses, and four houses.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly hammered home the point that Mexico will pay for the “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful” wall.
On Tuesday, President Trump emphasized that he has not backed down from his campaign promise of a border wall.
Trump’s administration is requesting $1 billion for a down-payment on the border wall to get the project started.
This comes at a time when Democrats and Republicans are ready to have a showdown regarding the federal government’s budget and adding billions of dollars for a border wall could cause even more divide between the parties. There have been threats of a government shutdown if funding for the wall is included and current funding runs out at midnight on Friday. The EL CHAPO Act could enable Trump to move away from federal funding of his wall and still technically say that Mexico is paying for the wall.
That $14 billion could fund the entire wall or a hefty chunk of it based on which construction cost estimates you subscribe to. So how much will a border wall cost?
President Trump has said that his proposed wall will cost $8 billion.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security believes the U.S.-Mexico border wall could cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct.
In January, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated the wall will cost between $12 billion to $15 billion.
Bernstein Research estimates the costs to be between $15 billion to $25 billion.
The U.S. border with Mexico is roughly 2,000 miles long and underlines four states, from California to Texas, more than half of it along the Colorado River and Rio Grande. It is a massive stretch of land — the Berlin Wall spanned just 96 miles comparatively, and it cost about $25 million to build in 1961, or around $200 million with inflation.
There is already 670 miles of fencing on the U.S.–Mexico border from the Bush administration’s Secure Fence Act of 2006. That portion of fencing, about one-third of the entire border, cost approximately $2.4 billion.
However, simply enforcing the laws that are already in existence has caused a massive decline in illegal immigration. In an interview with the Associated Press, President Trump said, “Now, it just came out that they’re 73 percent down. … That’s a tremendous achievement. … Look at this, in 100 days, that down to the lowest in 17 years and it’s going lower.”
He’s looked at year-over-year March border apprehension data to say there’s been a 64 percent decline; compared February 2017 numbers to the election month, November 2016 to say it’s gone down 61 percent; and said there was a 40 percent decline from January, the month he was inaugurated, to February.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection data show that in March 2017 agents made 12,193 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is the lowest number in at least 17 years, according to monthly southwest border apprehension numbers since fiscal year 2000.