Ted Cruz Wants El Chapo to Pay for Border Wall

ted cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration hearing on Capitol Hill. He says that “the El Chapo Act…takes the money, the billions that El Chapo made crossing the border illegally…and uses it to pay for the wall.” Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Senator Ted Cruz is asking his supporters to "sign up" to become "citizen cosponsors" of a dead-on-arrival bill he wrote that looks to use money seized from Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, commonly known as El Chapo, to pay for a border wall.

Once a "citizen co-sponsor" submits their name, phone number and email address to Cruz, they're led to a page asking them to "ensure more conservative victories in the future" by setting up a monthly donation to his campaign fund.

The fundraising request disguised as a petition stems from an idea that Cruz has floated since at least April of 2017, which he calls the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act (EL CHAPO). The act would take the $14 billion in assets that the U.S. government is currently trying to seize from the leader of one of the world's largest drug rings and use it to pay for President Donald Trump's border wall.

The federal government is now in its third week of a partial shutdown over funding for the wall, and Trump has said he will veto any spending bill that does not supply $5 billion for a wall on the U.S. southern border.

Cruz has heavily promoted his El Chapo plan, and it's even received support from Chuck Norris, but it appears that even Cruz realizes that the bill is unlikely to go anywhere.

The two-term Senator recently threw his support behind a comprehensive bill that would supply $25 billion for the wall by increasing fines for entering the U.S. illegally or for overstaying a visa and by denying food stamps and other welfare benefits to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Undocumented immigrants are generally not eligible to receive government benefits, but Republican backers of the bill say it could save $33 billion over 10 years.

Still, Cruz is using the El Chapo Act to raise funds.

Cruz is well-known for his creative, and sometimes deceptive, campaign fundraising efforts. In September 2018, Cruz sent donation requests to Texans in envelopes disguised as legal summonses.

"Received this for my 88-year-old grandma," wrote Sean Owen of Austin on Twitter about the mailers. "Says it's a summons from Travis County, but is actually asking for money for Ted Cruz. Did your campaign authorize this? Is this even legal? Shame on you."

During the 2016 presidential elections, Cruz sent out mailers in Iowa that warned of a "VOTING VIOLATION" in large red letters.

"You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area," the letter inside read. "Your individual voting history, as well as your neighbors', are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday's caucuses."