Can the Trump Administration Use Asset Forfeiture Funds to Build the Border Wall?

Hawaiian vacation. Margarita machine. Sparkles the Clown. Are we going to add Trump’s border wall to the list of “ridiculous things” that civil asset forfeiture funds have been spent on?

It seems so if left up to this administration.

On Friday, two congressional Republicans told the Associated Press that the administration had been looking at civil asset forfeiture funds to finance the border wall’s construction. And it’s easy to see why. The federal government’s forfeiture fund currently has $3.7 billion in cash, but over $7.6 billion in assets. For the Trump administration, what could be more tempting than liquidating this slush fund to build the wall it wants a new influx of $5.7 billion for?

This scheme exemplifies all that is wrong with civil asset forfeiture, which occurs when law enforcement takes property away from someone based on the mere suspicion it is connected to a crime. To be clear — because people can’t believe this is a thing — you do not have to be arrested or convicted of a crime to have your property seized and taken under civil asset forfeiture.

And once forfeited, local law enforcement in many places can use this money for almost anything it wants. This is how civil forfeiture has earned the nickname “policing for profit.” And this is why the Trump administration thinks forfeiture funds are on the table for a border wall.

That assumption at the federal level, however, is mistaken.

Building a wall with federal forfeiture funds is no slam dunk. Federal law limits the use of such funds to certain law enforcement purposes. “Border wall” is not one of them. And it doesn’t look like Congress would take action to change the law so that “border wall” is a permissible expense. Even though we’ve heard a member of Congress suggest that a wall should be built with forfeiture funds, most federal officials are strongly opposed to civil forfeiture.     

On Tuesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a civil forfeiture reformer, questioned Attorney General nominee William Barr on the practice. Lee got Barr to concede that you “have to strike the right balance” on civil forfeiture. In 1991, Barr said that civil asset forfeiture could give law enforcement a “speed-trap mentality” where agencies pursue forfeitures to line their own coffers.

And last week, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) kicked off the 116th Congress by participating in a briefing on civil asset forfeiture reform, with Walberg sharing his plan to again reintroduce the FAIR Act, a comprehensive reform bill on the subject. Last Congress, the U.S. House adopted bipartisan amendments to a spending bill that would have prohibited the Justice Department from using federal dollars to increase forfeiture practices, but those amendments were not included in the final package.

When 84 percent of constituents oppose civil asset forfeiture, and 76 percent of voters are more likely to support candidates who back forfeiture reform, elected officials better listen. And this administration should listen to those who are saying building a wall with forfeiture “might be the worst idea yet.”   

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Anonymous

Honestly EVERY administration in the government wastes hard earned tax money as well as ill-gotten gain money. Why not a wall? It might help and make the jobs of the border patrol a little easier. Plus, at least we'll have something to show for our money!!!

AnonymouS

Yeah, with the government shut down and the essential personnel pulling all the levers, you won't see the Treasury being raided with there accounts being drained and transferred through international hacking. We're in a Constitutional crisis -- a slow motion cold civil war; a leadership battle, with no one taking responsibility for the damage occurring. And since Trump owns it, it becomes a dictatorship, with "acting" administration and poorly back-filled roles doing the governing. The only cost/benefit analysis that's going in in expert's minds is, whether paying down the GDP on massive federal debt is more or less, than shutting down the government and reducing the overall GDP of the nation based on federal payrolls, and procurement & contracting. The 'wall' is symbol, an anachronism used just to make an argument along some battle-line, the question is how much is Trump willing to dictate the circumstances? How willing are we Americans to let our right to a functioning government go sideways?

The Emperor

Gawd forbid President Shit for Brains does this. I doubt many people would take this lying down and it would only increase contempt and disrespect for the law.
Me personally I believe in scorched earth and would rather destroy my property that is seized regardless of whether or not it is done "legally" accordingly to asset forfeiture.
For example, if my car was seized then I should be free of the remaining debt and if not...well I hope Trump's "dealmaking" skills are good enough to get the blue book value of the car when it is a twisted metal wreck.

James C. Walker

Civil forfeiture without a conviction for a related crime is governmental larceny. This flagrantly abusive practice must be stopped. All the officials involved in each and every theft should be prosecuted for larceny.
James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Anonymous

Point blank, it's Communism. Government taking over private property and businesses could be call nothing else. However, as Trump and family are convicted of financial felonies, I expect their assets to be confiscated by law enforcement as ill-gotten illegal gains.

James Christoph...

A post from someone that knows WTF they are talking about instead of racist assholes that want a wall that will do NOTHING to stop immigration but cost us Billions of highly needed funds for medical, civil road infrastructure, EPA control all the while we have a ton of loyal veterans that are homeless with no medical care that has been denied to them! Anyone that agrees with this wall is a total racist piece of shit that I wish I could magically switch them from their comfy sofas and chairs of cowardliness to the conditions innocent refugees that are seeking a better way of life deserve. If they do not, then we should ALL leave America as we did the same to the Native Americans with Genocide!

Today, 800,000 federal government workers and countless contractors are wrestling with the fallout of the longest government shutdown in history. On Friday, President Trump reopened the government without his border wall. Now we have three weeks before the current funding runs out to ensure the government stays funded – but with no money for a wall or a raise for Trump's detention and deportation force.

Let's not forget how we got into this mess: Trump's desire to implement unconscionable, inhumane, and illegal immigration policies. He created a crisis at the border with his own policies that target asylum seekers. A wall and more border militarization won't fix it.

I witnessed the crisis firsthand a few weeks ago when I traveled to Tijuana, Mexico. Because in order to win this fight, we must confront the realities of Trump's anti-immigrant agenda. Read about the real problems at the border – all consequences of the administration's own policies.

The Trump administration is violating U.S. and international human rights law by denying asylum seekers entry. As a result, migrants who are fleeing persecution and violence must wait in Mexico in cities like Tijuana. Many stay in overcrowded shelters, where a thin plastic sheet is the only barrier protecting them from dirt floors. Those who can't find a space in a shelter live in tent encampments on the street. Respiratory illness, chicken pox, and other sicknesses run rampant as a result of people sleeping outside for months. And as children wait for asylum, cartels prey on them – kidnapping, extorting, torturing and murdering them.

These conditions become worse as the backlog of migrants seeking refuge grows – a backlog that the Trump administration has created as it continues to illegally deny people's right to claim asylum. The administration can fix this problem by reversing its own anti-asylum policies – not by building a wall, and not by giving any more money to ICE or CBP.

As Trump insists on ineffective solutions like a wall and jailing an unprecedented 52,000 immigrants per day, we must confront the real crisis on the border and the policies that manufactured it. When we call on our members of Congress again, we'll remember what we're fighting for.

James, we'll keep challenging Trump's anti-asylum policies in the courts. But it's activists like you who made Trump change course on Friday and reopen the government without getting his border wall. And it's activists like you who will make sure Trump never gets his wall, more money for his detention and deportation force, or gets away with any of his inhumane, illegal immigration policies.

Anonymous

A post from someone that knows WTF they are talking about ? That sure the hell isn't you !!
Today, 800,000 federal government workers and countless contractors are wrestling with the fallout of the longest government shutdown in history. Paid vacation just like Pelosi..I'll get backpay!
As a result, migrants who are fleeing persecution and violence must wait in Mexico in cities like Tijuana. . . It's international law for" asylum seekers " where they were GRANTED asylum..and jobs etc etc..
Respiratory illness, chicken pox, and other sicknesses run rampant .. not if they had stayed home !
And as children wait for asylum, cartels prey on them – kidnapping, extorting, torturing and murdering them... B.S. !!!

These conditions become worse as the backlog of migrants seeking refuge ... from WHAT? Seeking handouts is what they want.
not by giving any more money to ICE or CBP.

As Trump insists on ineffective solutions like a wall and jailing an unprecedented 52,000 immigrants per day... Walls are effective look around the world..No need for jail if we send them back..or keep them out..

And it's activists like you who will make sure Trump never gets his wall, more money for his detention and deportation force, or gets away with any of his inhumane, illegal immigration policies.... Maybe we can send them to your house,you'll house and feed maybe employ them as well 'cause Nancy sure isn't.!!

Lee Hendrix

...EVERY administrator in the government knows the difference between a police officer taking the property of citizens without a judge ruling such in a court of law, where possession is articulated, and legislating laws to take property without probable cause. The definition of Bullying best applies.

Anonymous

The Sackler family’s OxyContin case is an example of a great use of Civil Asset Forfeiture.
The government could collect billions not just a few thousands of dollars.
But we all know that would never happen to a white family that is in the top 1% of wage earners with an army of attorneys to protect their ill gotten gains.
Responsible for more deaths and carnage than gun violence?
Where is the outrage? Where is justice?
The hipocracy is amazingly unbelievable.
Is this America?
Freeze their accounts, seize their real estate, confiscate their toys... yeah right.
After all they must qualify for “due process “ unlike us “normal” citizens.
A very slippery slope.

George

The Sackler family’s OxyContin case is an example of a great use of Civil Asset Forfeiture.
The government could collect billions not just a few thousands of dollars.
But we all know that would never happen to a white family that is in the top 1% of wage earners with an army of attorneys to protect their ill gotten gains.
Responsible for more deaths and carnage than gun violence?
Where is the outrage? Where is justice?
The hipocracy is amazingly unbelievable.
Is this America?
Freeze their accounts, seize their real estate, confiscate their toys... yeah right.
After all they must qualify for “due process “ unlike us “normal” citizens.
A very slippery slope.

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