Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has an idea to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall without dipping into taxpayer money: make Mexican drug cartels pay for it.
Sensenbrenner, a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, plans to propose legislation that would allow the government to use civil forfeiture to use money seized in drug busts before the defendants went to trial.
“This is a way to fulfill the president’s desire to have Mexico pay for the wall,” Sensenbrenner told the Washington Examiner.
“Having the money seized from Mexican drug cartels would mean that the bad Mexicans would end up paying for the wall, and the bad Mexicans have been terrorizing the good Mexicans with crime and kidnappings and murders within Mexico itself,” Sensenbrenner said.
The legislation would direct Attorney General Jeff Sessions to count how much money the Drug Enforcement Agency seizes from cartels and come up with strategies to increase the total. The legislation would make 50 percent of the total seized funds “available without fiscal year limitation” to fund construction of the border wall.
The DEA “has estimated that the gross receipts of the Mexican drug trade are somewhere between $19-29 billion a year,” Sensenbrenner said. “We don’t have to be 100 percent efficient to get the money we need to pay for the wall relatively quickly.”
Early estimates for the cost of building a wall along parts of the 2,000-mile southern border range from $12 billion to $21 billion.
Trump said the cost could be around $12 billion, and House Speaker Paul Ryan floated the number $15 billion. A Department of Homeland Security report obtained by Reuters in February put the cost at $21 billion for the entire project.
Senate Democrats, led by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, threatened that they would consider shutting down the government to prevent funding of the border wall project, or to stop attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. (RELATED: Democrats Threaten Government Shutdown Over Border Wall)
The Department of Homeland Security announced the first phase of the wall project March 2, asking interested contractors to prepare bids for the project. (RELATED: Homeland Security Posts Bid Notice For Design Of Great Mexico Border Wall)
DHS plans to release a full request for proposals for the wall after March 15. Currently, the department envisions “concrete wall structures, nominally 30 feet tall, that will meet requirements for aesthetics, anti-climbing, and resistance to tampering or damage,” according to the government’s contracting website.
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