Beto O'Rourke Slams Ted Cruz's Plan to Build a Border Wall With El Chapo's Money

Beto O'Rourke campaigning in Garland this month.
Beto O'Rourke campaigning in Garland this month. Alyson Sheppard
On Tuesday afternoon, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced a plan to help President Trump build the multi-billion dollar wall along the Mexican border that both politicians insist is essential securing America. Cruz's proposal would fund the wall with cash seized from illegal drug proceeds and identified the assets of drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman as the key source of the funds.

El Paso U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who's been barnstorming Texas following his announcement three weeks ago that he will challenge Cruz in 2018, says the bill is unnecessary political theater. "We do not need a wall by any measure," O'Rourke told the Observer Tuesday. "You look at the apprehension numbers, they've never been lower. The type of people we are apprehending include kids who are fleeing violence in Central America. If they're lucky, they're there with their mothers, brothers and sisters, but they're often unaccompanied."

“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall." -Sen Ted Cruz

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There have never been more border patrol agents, and no terror attack has ever started south of the U.S. border with Mexico, the congressman claims. (Descendants of the victims of Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, N.M., might disagree, but that was in 1916.)

"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," O'Rourke says. "I'm all for using the seized assets of Chapo Guzman, but let's use them for something that we need."

According to Cruz, Trump's proposed 1,000-mile wall will hinder the flow of immigration, illegal drugs and weapons across a porous border. “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 said in a statement Tuesday.

The federal government is seeking to seize more than $14 billion in assets from Guzman, who currently faces 17 federal charges including conspiracy to commit murder, drug-related charges like money laundering and firearms offenses. Cost estimates for the wall vary wildly, with reported estimates from less than $10 billion, an amount proposed by the president, to congressional Democrats' estimate of $66.9 billion.

"I'm all for using the seized assets of Chapo Guzman, but let's use them for something that we need." - Beto O'Rourke

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Cruz insists that the wall will protect Texas and the rest of the nation. “Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget," Cruz said in a statement. "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.”

Here's Cruz's act, Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) in its entirety.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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