How to toughen border security? Use convicted drug kingpin’s money | Opinion

Wednesday, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera is expected to be sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars. As he contemplates his future in jail, we should take his seized confiscated assets to help secure the border with Mexico.

El Chapo was unanimously found guilty of 10 federal criminal counts brought against him earlier this year. These include peddling thousands of pounds of narcotics, operating a criminal enterprise and weapons violations.

Through his unparalleled wealth, the former head of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel ruled through fear, bloodshed and showering local law enforcement and politicians with graft. And he was twice on the lam after escaping from Mexican prisons.

With El Chapo soon to call a maximum-security cell home, what will happen to all of his drug money?

We’re making a big push in Congress to pass the El CHAPO Act, which I’ve co-sponsored. This legislation would direct billions of dollars’ worth of the drug lord’s confiscated assets to help secure the southern border.

Guzman’s drug empire has accrued an estimated $14 billion from narcotic sales responsible for affecting and destroying the lives of countless Americans. Congress should pass this commonsense bill to divert his blood money to help stop the flow of drugs and violence into our neighborhoods and give President Trump another tool to build the wall.

What is occurring at the border is harmful to both Americans and those trying to sneak over. With hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to illegally cross the southern border, it is undeniable that there is a crisis at our southern border.

Let’s look at some recent statistics:

In June, there were 104,344 southwest border apprehensions, representing a 381% increase from June 2017. Furthermore, the U.S. is on pace to apprehend 1 million migrants by the end of the fiscal year in October.

Since last October, U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations has encountered more than 12,500 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions attempting to breach the border. Meanwhile, the two agencies have seized a combined 518,000 pounds of narcotics.

The crisis at the border is also a boon for money-hungry human smugglers. These heartless criminals encourage the dangerous trek of illegal crossings that imperil many migrants. In fact, a senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection has attributed recent upticks of illegal immigration to human traffickers who exploit loopholes in U.S. immigration enforcement.

But our porous border and broken immigration system are more than just statistics and anecdotes. Again, strengthening laws and boosting border security southern is necessary for the U.S. – and any country for that matter. Why is this controversial? America is a fair and compassionate nation. We are a nation of immigrants but also a nation of laws.

Let’s make the El Chapo Act law by passing it and getting to President Trump’s desk. Build the wall!

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, represents Manatee County and parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.