Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has resurrected the only plan for paying for President Donald Trump's favorite pet project that's less likely to succeed than the president's own plan for paying for the scheme. Cruz, echoing the totally conceived-in-good-faith idea that first sprang from his mouth in 2017, thinks that Joaquín Guzmán Loera — the drug lord better known as El Chapo — should pay for a border-spanning wall between the United States and Guzmán's home country, Mexico.
Cruz's idea, which he's codified into a proposed law called the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (El CHAPO) Act, is based on the federal government's contention that Guzmán has nearly $13 billion in assets somewhere that the U.S. has yet to find. Wednesday, a federal court sentenced Guzmán to life in prison and ordered him to pay more than $12.6 million in restitution.
Guzmán's attorney, Mariel Colon Miro, told Fox News last week that the money doesn't exist.
"It's ridiculous for the government to think he has all this money," she said. "The government hasn't been able to locate a single penny."
Miro's statements weren't enough to slow down our hero, who said in 2017 that the El Chapo Act was all about "leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, (so) we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”
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It's worth noting here that estimates for the total cost of building the wall have run from Trump's guess of about $12 billion to Senate Democrats' estimate of almost $70 billion.
Bad faith aside — it's doubtful the U.S. government ever sees a dime of Guzmán's cash, whether it exists or not — the wall remains, as it would've been in 2017 and will be in 2027, bad for Texas.
"Whether you're paying for it with seized assets from drug kingpins or you're paying for it with tax dollars, as the president wants to do, you're wasting money on something that you just don't need," then-U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke told the Observer two years ago. "I'm all for using the seized assets of Chapo Guzman, but let's use them for something that we need."