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Will Ted Cruz's EL CHAPO Act Fund Trump's Border Wall?

El Chapo Mexican Marines

On Tuesday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz introduced a bill called the EL CHAPO Act, a direct reference to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea, a.k.a. "El Chapo." The bill would direct the criminal forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds into border security projects, like President Donald Trump's wall. The bill could be a clever way to skirt the Democrats' attempt to prevent funding for the wall in budget negotiations this week.

"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 declared in a statement announcing the bill. "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."

The bill is called the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act. It would reserve "any illegally obtained profits resulting from the large-scale, criminal drug trafficking enterprise led by" El Chapo "for the completion of a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico for the purpose of stemming the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States and furthering the Nation's security."

The bill comes as Congress is nearing a Friday deadline to fund the government. Democrats have threatened to force a government shutdown if any bill to fund the government includes money to build the wall. Trump has signaled a willingness to drop wall funding if necessary, NBC News reported.

In a Monday interview with the Associated Press, President Trump said he would try to decrease the cost of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to $10 billion. If Cruz's estimates that the U.S. government would be able to seize $14 billion in assets from El Chapo are correct, that sum would be enough to fund the wall, according to Trump's latest suggestion.