Border wall

Sen. Ted Cruz Wants to Pay for Border Wall with Asset Forfeiture (UPDATE: Criminal Forfeiture Only)

This will encourage even more attempts to seize people's money and property.


Ted Cruz
Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom

President Donald Trump is having a bit of a challenge actually finding the funding to build the border wall he promised in his campaign.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who himself campaigned for president partly by saying he would be even tougher on illegal immigrants than Trump, thinks he has a solution. He wants to use federal asset forfeiture funds to build the wall.

Axios notes that Cruz wants to introduce legislation named after famed Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo to help pay for the wall. The feds are trying to seize $14 billion from the drug lord. Cruz said in a statement, "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."

There are a couple of issues to worry about here (besides the most obvious one that the wall is a stupid idea that won't work and should be abandoned). First is the likely incorrect assumption that the federal government will be able to get its hands on all that El Chapo money. Axios notes that Cruz's proposed bill (he hasn't even posted the text up on his own Senate page yet so we don't really know what it says) would "use asset seized from drug lords such as El Chapo." Italics mine. Cruz's statement on his Senate page uses similar language.

It doesn't sound like this legislation would be confined to taking money from El Chapo. This is significant because police and prosecutors and like-minded supporters of asset forfeiture always attempt to present this process as taking the ill-gotten gains of the drug cartels and keeping it to fund law enforcement.

But that's not actually how it plays out. In reality, police and prosecutors tend to abuse the civil asset forfeiture process to harass travelers who are carrying cash, claim that it's all part of the drug trade, and attempt to keep it for themselves without ever providing any proof a crime happened. Civil asset forfeiture has become a massive source of controversy because it's been abused to take money and property from citizens without due process in order for police departments to fund themselves.

So if this legislation is not written in such a way that it requires these "drug kingpins" to actually be convicted of crimes before their money is seized, and the Trump administration becomes dependent on using this money to pay for this wall … you can see where this is going, can't you? FBI, DEA officers and federal prosecutors are going to have even more incentives and pressures to attempt to seize the property of greater numbers of people. And they're going to fight tooth and nail to keep from having to give it back even if they never actually charge people with federal crimes.

Cruz has previously said that he supports asset forfeiture reforms as a "property rights" issue. But he's flip-flopped on criminal justice issues before, supporting the easing of mandatory minimum sentences before turning against changes. If he wants that wall hard enough (and he does want that wall), is he willing to turn is back on asset forfeiture abuses?

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The legislation has been posted and will apply specifically only to actual criminal forfeiture of the assets of a convicted member of a drug cartel. Read the proposed text here.

NEXT: Judge Rules Against Trump on Sanctuary Cities, Build the Wall and Make El Chapo Pay For It: P.M. Links

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  1. So what you’re saying, Shackford, is that Trump to pay for his wall should be taking a big bite out of all those assets seized on the interstates. Interesting.

  2. Cruz just wants this because he knows maple syrup foreclosures aren’t going to build a northern wall to keep all his fellow Canadians out.

    1. Cruz: ” . . hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border.”

      All three of which should be, you know, *legal* for the average citizen, let alone for a self-proclaimed “conservative.”

    2. Guns are coming across the southern border? Where do I get in on this action? At the local day worker center? Want me some cheep gunns!

      1. I have to wonder about these guys sometimes.

        We’re told that Mexico’s gun control regime would work fine if it weren’t for the flood of guns going *south*, now we’re told that the Mexicans are sending them back North?

        Where they wouldn’t even be illegal? Like, literally, the only reason moving guns *into* the United States would be illegal is if you failed to declare them at customs. So we need a wall to prevent Mexicans from skipping customs declaration?

        1. We’re told that Mexico’s gun control regime would work fine if it weren’t for the flood of guns going *south*

          By lying gun-controllers trying to impose laws in the US and deliberately refusing to acknowledge the cartels are perfectly capable of making their own guns. And, of course the cartels making their own do it in Mexico, where it is easier to bribe, kill, and drive off the police, rather than in the US, where the ATF and FBI are harder to dodge when trying to run your own gun production line.

          Of course, when you make your own AR-15s in Mexico, it’s just silly to limit them to semi-auto-only fire to conform to US laws about sales in gun shops. So you go ahead and make them full-auto — which means they would be illegal in the US. And if your drug dealer clients in the US want some full-auto guns, well, you already have an operation to smuggle contraband into the US.

  3. It’s almost as if the wall is Jesus, who is coming any year now, seriously.

  4. Oh so Scott just wants to see this money taken from taxpayers instead of criminals. Even or especially Mexican criminals, who are better and have more rights than American citizens, right Scott? Exactly what I’ve come to expat from Reason.

    1. Stupid Reason. Worse than Stalin.

  5. The liberals on campuses are trying their best to shut down free speech, and one of the better known conservatives in the Senate is all for asset forfeiture.


    1. I’m not sure why you are surprised a conservative is pro-asset forfeiture. Conservatives run on law-and-order – emphasis on order. They’ve supported and pushed for continuing expansion of civil forfeiture for-freaking-ever.

    2. Yeah, because Reason (not necessarily Scott) has never overtly and rather dishonestly misquoted Cruz.

  6. Remember when Cruz used to be the Great White Libertarian Hope?

    1. Guess he realized which side the bread is buttered on.

    2. No, I don’t.

    3. Cruz has always been a RINO or LINO for some of you out there.

      He is a big spending “Republican” like most Republicans in Congress.

      Then you have the big spending Democrats.

      We’re fucked!

  7. The text of the bill has been posted and it’s criminal forfeiture only! So I’m updating the post.

    Building the wall is still a terrible idea, but at least we don’t have to worry about them abusing civil asset forfeiture.

  8. Ted Cruz had to fire his security detail because they would punch him every time he opened his mouth.

  9. The legislation has been posted and will apply specifically only to actual criminal forfeiture of a member of a drug cartel.

    At least there has to be a felony conviction, I guess.

    1. A state conviction that carries the *potential* for a year in jail counts as a felony for Federal ‘you are prohibited from doing [x] if you’ve had a felony conviction’ purposes.

      So its really not doing much.

      1. But at least it requires a conviction, which I think was my point. I am Mister Brightside.

        1. Here’s the kicker – even if you negotiate probation as part of a plea deal (so you can avoid trial – guilt or innocence notwithstanding), its still a felony conviction.

          So this reduces the potential for abuse by about .00001%. But someone’s going to get re-elected because of it.

  10. How about charging the current 11 million illegals $1,000 per year to obtain legal status and permission to work. That would make the Mexicans pay for the wall.

    1. Imagine a ten million Trumpaloompahs all screaming “pay to play” at the top of their lungs. Yeah. That.

  11. IMPORTANT UPDATE: The legislation has been posted and will apply specifically only to actual criminal forfeiture of the assets of a convicted member of a drug cartel. Read the proposed text here.


  12. So, when we impugn Cruz, known for verbal gaffes/inelegance, for saying:
    “illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border”

    Are we opposed to the notion of illegal guns, illegal drugs, and people crossing the border? Or are we opposed to the notion that the government shouldn’t be able to stop (e.g.) the Taliban from importing weapons even citizens can’t own? Or do we just not give a shit anymore?

    Not that I’m saying any of it’s happening or that’s what Cruz is saying but that there was always plenty of Team Red/Cruz hatred around this site at one point. Right up until it was *coincidentally* eclipsed by TDS. I mean, it’s funny to act like without The Government we wouldn’t have roads (because we would) but acting like, without government, we wouldn’t have regional warlords and be largely reliant on opium crops seems a bit optimistic.

  13. One more reason all governments should be abolished. Civil assest forfeiture is nothing but theft and anyone doing it should be shot like any other two bit theif.

  14. Instead of building a border wall why not use seized suspected ill gotten gains to bring down the wall of ignorance that allows lazy con artists to milk Americans of billions of their hard earned dollars?

    1. Yeah! They could donate that cash to the LP as restitution to offset the subsidies given the looter parties through the Nixon Anti-Libertarian Law.

  15. Cruz is an idiot. It ok for illegal Cubans to boat 90 miles across the ocean but Mexicans can’t walk across a dried up river.

  16. Cruz is an idiot. It ok for illegal Cubans to boat 90 miles across the ocean but Mexicans can’t walk across a dried up river.

  17. Build the Wall with seized property? ! But that money is needed to do the seizing, never mind that it violates the 8th Amendment. The idea is proof that Trump isn’t the only idiot inside the Beltway.

  18. Relax. This is for the Northern Wall against godless Canada, where Ted was born. The alternative is to send troops in to liberate endangered ova by kidnapping the heathen fertile women that have been flocking there to escape God’s Own Antichoice legislators.

  19. Not My Senator Ted Swastika has a lot better chance of passing this Letter of Marque than a Canadian has of occupying the White House. But even granting the obvious, his sanctimonious guff does little to paper over a lynch mob of superstitious looters out to rip off a tariff evader and competitor against Starbucks. If Mark Twain had been successful in his venture to establish an emporium for importation of coca, mixed-economy mercantilists of the Gilded Era would have handed out the bribes and paid for appropriate legislation. Ted’s bill of indictment would today name Maxwell House or Folgers as targets of the Wrath of Beauregard. Certainly the purveyors of Vin Mariani, having gotten caffeine declared a poison liable to transform kindly old Uncle Tom into a cop-killing Caffeine Negro, would guarantee the true-billing of coffee fiends, elimination of all legal competition from Java and Brazil, and impoundment into the Margarita Machine slush funds for local Dog Shooter beneficent societies. In countries where medicinal coca flows freely, excellent coffee can be had for about 40? a cup.

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