Q&A – Can El Chapo's Money Be Used To Build The Wall?

Today’s question was submitted by Ray.

Why can't part of drug money be used to help build U.S. border wall and help Mexico build a southern wall as well? This would help both the U.S. and Mexico with illegal immigrants problems.

Bottom Line: If memory serves, this is an idea that’s been previously floated by Ted Cruz. He used the line, "we'll build the wall and have El Chapo pay for it" on the campaign trail last year. President Trump recently suggested it might be an option as well, so, let’s start with what the law states. According to the Department of Justice via the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984: The Attorney General is authorized to use the Assets Forfeiture Fund to pay any necessary expenses associated with forfeiture operations such as property seizure, detention, management, forfeiture, and disposal. The Fund may also be used to finance certain general investigative expenses.

First, you’ll notice that the authorized agent of the allocation of these funds is the AG, not the President. It’d have to be the Justice Department that would take the lead on wall construction with the funds rather than President Trump. So that’s the first question. Would our new AG Bill Barr be willing to put himself in the political cross-hairs on this issue to do it? The second point is that even if he did, you’ll notice that there’s nothing specific to security measures being taken with funds. Because of the ambiguity, you’d imagine that Democrats would sue to stop it and it’d play out in the courts for an indeterminate amount of time with an unclear outcome. So that’s your answer. 

As for the wall construction. Back to what I presented earlier this week. If there’s $1.375 billion for border wall construction, that’s enough to fund the Border Patrol’s most immediate priority which should be completed in or around September. That’s exactly when the next funding deal for government is required. In other words, that’s all the money that’s needed for now to keep construction of the wall on track. Add in the President’s Emergency declaration which will be worked through the courts and you have multiple options in September.

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Photo by: Ted Psahos/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via Getty Images

 

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