MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin congressman has introduced a bill that could finance the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border with money seized from Mexican drug cartels.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s the Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted (BUILD WALL) Act of 2017 would require the U.S. attorney general to issue a detailed report on the amount of annual profits Mexican cartels bring into the U.S. The report would focus on how the DOJ can “increase assets seized by such cartels.”
The BUILD WALL Act would use money forfeited from drug traffickers to fund increased security on the border. Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican, said the proceeds could be used to build the wall that President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail, or another physical barrier or technology-supported solution.
Mexican drug cartels rake in an estimated $19 billion to $29 billion annually in illegal drug sales in the United States.
Sensenbrenner said the funding would ease the financial burden on taxpayers. He also asserts the legislation would help build stronger relations between the United States and Mexico while fighting back against drug trafficking.
“Border security is imperative for a safe, prosperous nation and lawmakers must take a serious approach to solving the issues of illegal immigration and drug trafficking,” the congressman said in a press release. “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.
In January, before Trump’s inauguration, Republicans in Congress began discussions on financing a barrier on the U.S. southern border.
The lawmakers plan to use authority outlined in a 2006 law endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. The law required 700 miles of “reinforced fencing” and surveillance systems billed as a “virtual fence.”
“Several high-profile Democrats, including then-Sen. Barack Obama and current Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, voted for the Secure Fence Act,” the Washington Post reported in early January.
Amid heated conversations about immigration policy, Sensenbrenner said Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are looking for solutions to protect the U.S. southern border while being “conscientious of taxpayers’ money.”
“The BUILD WALL Act is a creative solution to a complex problem and I encourage my colleagues to support it,” Sensenbrenner said.