President Trump has been proposing the construction of a "big, beautiful wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border since the beginning of his presidential campaign. Although he insisted that Mexico would cover the costs, he is currently looking for a way to squeeze the project into the federal budget, and conceded on Tuesday that he may wait until the next fiscal year to do so. But Sen. Ted Cruz has proposed the EL CHAPO Act to fund the border wall, and it involves making a Mexican man pay for it. The proposed act would seize money from the notorious drug lord to fund the billion-dollar project.
On Tuesday, the Texas senator released a statement outlining plans for the EL CHAPO Act, which stands for "Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order." Cruz proposes that the U.S. government should seize the drug profits and other assets of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, more famously known as El Chapo, to pay for Trump's border wall. Guzman, a Mexican drug lord who escaped from prison twice, was extradited to the United States in January and is currently awaiting trial in Brooklyn. He reportedly has a fortune of up to $14 billion from his criminal activities.
"$14 billion 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 said in a statement. The senator also stated that the bill may extend to the assets of other prominent Mexican drug lords and cartel leaders.
But this bill may face some logistical challenges, even before it is proposed for a Senate vote. It has not yet been verified that Guzman actually has the $14 billion figure that the U.S. Department of Justice believes him to have.
And according to U.S. law, an individual is innocent until proven guilty. Guzman pleaded not guilty to 17 criminal charges against him in January, and will not face trial until later this year. "[U]nder the Constitution, the government has to prove that someone is guilty of a crime before it can take his property," lawyers Michael Schneider and Michelle Gelernt, told the New York Daily News.
Trump's border wall is projected to cost up to $70 billion, which is three times the cost that Trump initially projected. The president announced on Tuesday that he refuses to back down from the project, but he will not be seeking money for the wall in next year's budget to avoid a potential government shutdown when the current budget expires on Friday.