President Donald Trump’s wall, the secure barrier on the U.S. southern border, will be built. The enduring question is how to pay for it.
The BUILD WALL Act (an acronym for Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted) proposes increased forfeitures and a restructured allocation of funds already seized by the U.S.
The money is certainly there, although it would take time to structure an apportionment for the wall. In 2016, the Justice Department seized $1.7 billion from all illegal sources, including drug cartels. Currently, seized funds are earmarked for law enforcement budgets, according to The Washington Times.
“If we do nothing, we put the people of this nation at risk, as well as allow illegal immigrants to take away jobs, opportunities and social funding from U.S. citizens — all at the expense of the American taxpayer,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement. “The BUILD WALL Act is a creative solution to a complex problem.”
The problem certainly is complex. A Department of Homeland Security report sent to the White House last week estimated that the wall will cost $21.6 billion and over three years to build, according to Reuters.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told CBS News last month that many options exist on how to fund the wall.
“It can either be through a tax on goods coming across the border, it could be through tax reform and a formula on import and export taxes and credits, it could be on drug cartels and it could be on people that are coming here illegally and paying fines,” he said.
“Or it could be, you know, all of the above. There is a buffet of options that we have in order to pay for this wall.”
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, in Washington last month for talks with U.S. officials, told the Spanish-language network Televisa that the idea of making cartels pay was an idea worth pursuing.
“It’s a signal that — at least that’s how I interpret it — must be welcomed because we are already seeing how the discussion is changing,” he said, according to the International Business Times.
Sensenbrenner has a long congressional history of the “America First” policies embraced by Trump’s administration. For instance, he was the primary sponsor of H.R. 4437, a 2005 bill providing enhanced criminal penalties for aiding and abetting illegal immigration to the U.S.
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