Ted Cruz’s big idea to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall with drug money has resurfaced one day after lawmakers came to a tentative agreement to allocate just $1.6 billion to it.
The Republican senator from Texas says prosecutors want to seize $14 billion from the estate of drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, aka El Chapo, who is now in a U.S. prison. Guzmán was found guilty today of 10 criminal counts by a federal jury in New York. Instead of going to the U.S. Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies, the money would go directly to funding a physical barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Cruz originally introduced the bill on January 3. The senator and his staff apparently stayed up late devising a word salad to fit the preordained “EL CHAPO” handle for the bill. They came up with the “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order” Act.
In the original press release, Cruz says: “Congress has a clear mandate from the American people: Secure the border and build the wall.” This, of course, is a mixed message, because while Americans support securing the border, the majority opposed doing so with a physical wall.
Representative Will Hurd (R-TX), whose district includes the single largest stretch of border with Mexico in the U.S., has been a vocal opponent of Trump’s wall. Hurd favors a high-tech solution to border security that includes facial recognition, drones, and radar technologies.
While some illegal drugs come through remote areas on the border where a wall might be built, the vast majority–almost 90%–come through official points of entry, often hidden in vehicles that pass through checkpoints.
Cruz’s bill may have a chance of passing in some form in the Senate, but it would have had a far greater chance of success in the House before Democrats swept into the majority this year.