Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act on Tuesday, intending to cover the cost of the southern border wall by seizing more than $14 billion in drug proceeds from infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.
According to Cruz's press release, the bill would use all funds forfeited to the federal government during the prosecutions of El Chapo and other Mexican drug lords to fund the construction of the border wall. The funds could additionally be appropriated for other border security needs. The government is currently seeking over $14 billion from El Chapo in drug proceeds and other illicit profits.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 25, 2017
"Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border," Cruz wrote in the release. "Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities."
Cruz also noted that the bill would lessen the impact on the federal budget while still fulfilling President Donald Trump's campaign promise to increase border security.
"We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget," Cruz wrote. "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."
According to a Department of Homeland Security internal report, the wall would take over three years to build and would cost about $21.6 billion. The president had previously suggested that the wall would cost around $12 billion, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) intimated it would cost around $15 billion.
Cruz's bill comes in the wake of a week in which uncertainty marred the future of the border wall. There were mixed messages from the Trump administration as to whether or not funding would appear in the FY 2017 federal budge. On Tuesday, Trump insisted that the wall would be built "soon." However, budget negotiations as of late Tuesday afternoon did not appear to include funding for the wall.
Guzmán was extradited to the United States in January, and is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. On January 20, the Department of Justice announced that it was charging the drug lord with "leading a continuing criminal enterprise" and other drug-related charges. If convicted, he will face a mandatory life sentence.
On his website, Cruz issued a call to "build the wall and make El Chapo pay for it."
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 25, 2017
View the full act here.