Rep. Sensenbrenner Thinks We Can Pay For The Border Wall With More Asset Forfeiture

from the GIVE-UNTIL-IT-HURTS-Act dept

President Trump appears to have thrown his support behind asset forfeiture, even as the issue has begun reaching critical mass in the mainstream media. (It’s been thoroughly covered by more libertarian publications like Reason for years.) In addition to not being able to “see anything wrong with it,” Trump jokingly suggested he’d ruin the careers of politicians mounting reform efforts.

His recent executive orders appear to back this “gloves off” approach to criminal justice. In addition to singling out immigrants as troublemakers, the orders ask law enforcement officials to take a look around and see if they’re being constrained by any state or federal laws. Presumably, any recent forfeiture reform legislation would fall under this heading as it prevents law enforcement agencies from acting in the way they’ve become accustomed: seize first, convict later… if at all.

With Jeff Sessions in place as attorney general, asset forfeiture appears to be headed for the wrong kind of renaissance. Sessions is a firm believer in the general rightness of taking aways citizens’ property and due process simultaneously because, as he sees it, the process only affects people who’ve “done nothing but deal dope their whole lives.”

Now, there’s this: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is offering up another bill with a clumsily reverse-engineered acronym — one that could further pervert the incentives of asset forfeiture. (via Watchdog.org)

Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted (BUILD WALL) Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives.

[…]

This legislation would require the U.S. Attorney General to provide a detailed report on the amount of annual profits brought into the United States by Mexican drug cartels, as well as a study of how the Department of Justice can increase assets seized from such cartels.

Additionally, the BUILD WALL Act would use money forfeited from drug traffickers to fund increased border security on the U.S./ Mexican border. This defense could include a wall, another type of physical barrier, and/or a technology-supported solution. The use of this funding would ease the financial burdens on taxpayers and help build stronger relations between the United States and Mexico while fighting back against drug trafficking in both countries.

While Sensenbrenner’s statements mention Mexican drug cartels, the reality is that the billions the cartels make from drug sales are safely back in Mexico and (mostly) out of reach of US law enforcement. That leaves everyone on this side of the border, who can now be viewed as unwilling donors to the cause. If Trump’s ever going to be able to, uh, BUILD WALL, he’s going to need several billion more dollars than was stated in his original estimate. That’s where Mr. and Mrs. Interstate Traveler come into play. A few hundred dollars here and there, and eventually it adds up to real wall-building money.

This means the federal government would be looking to take a larger share of any revenue generated from asset forfeiture in partnerships with local law enforcement. This may not make the local boys happy, but considering many of them use these partnerships to route around local forfeiture restrictions, they can’t complain too much about the slightly-smaller cut of the proceeds, when the alternative might be nothing at all.

Lawmakers who support DJT’s Folly are casting about in hopes of landing a few billion in wall funding. Mexico has only extended a middle finger in response to the Wall Plan, so it’s up to us Americans to make a billionaire’s dreams come true. If that means having our cash, cars, and houses seized without accompanying criminal allegations, much less convictions, so be it. The security of our nation depends on our unwilling sacrifice. This wall must be built to ensure our nation is only susceptible to the thieves already in our midst.

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Comments on “Rep. Sensenbrenner Thinks We Can Pay For The Border Wall With More Asset Forfeiture”

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41 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

A matter of terminology

President Trump appears to have thrown his support behind asset forfeiture

any recent forfeiture reform legislation would fall under this heading as it prevents law enforcement agencies from acting in the way they’ve become accustomed: seize first, convict later… if at all.

…so it’s up to us Americans to make a billionaire’s dreams come true. If that means having our cash, cars, and houses seized without accompanying criminal allegations, much less convictions, so be it.

Call it what it actually is please: Theft, Robbery-at-Badgepoint, or Stealing. ‘Asset Forefeiture’ makes it sound like a legitimate government action with things like ‘limits’ and ‘constitutional protections afforded to the accused’, which sharply contrasts to what’s actually going on, wherein police and government agents steal anything that looks valuable simply because they can.

No matter how they like to dress it up as this awesome crime fighting tool, without a conviction to demonstrate guilt the only difference between being robbed by someone with a badge versus being robbed by someone without a badge is that you’re not allowed to defend yourself against the former.

(Before someone points out that you can challenge having your stuff stolen by the police, yes technically this is true. After it’s already happened. In a rigged system designed to make it as expensive and difficult as it can be, and where the ‘guilt’ of your former possessions has already been determined and where it’s up to you to prove the ‘innocence’ of the stolen goods.)

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Funding Governemnt

If the government is so dependent upon citizens forfeiting their assets, why don’t they just take them all? Declare eminent domain and seize every asset in the country, personal, business, as well as any other construct.

Then, once they own all the assets, they can just sit back and figure out how they will tax people with nothing to be taxed. Start with anyone holding elected office, next go to anyone working for any level of government, then get the business’s (extra penalties for trying to move your assets someplace else…oh wait, what would they pay with?), and then go after the little people.

/s

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: Funding Governemnt

Don’t give them ideas. They will take that and go the other way with it and say it was your idea. They will start with the poor and little people, then go to Business where the right money will be paid to the right people and it will be found to be a bad idea. Meanwhile the poor and little people will have nothing but an apology and a useless wall.

Speaking about the wall, why are we not building a wall between us and Canada? I mean, the border there is far bigger and easier to cross.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Funding Governemnt

too late…

Just like how the FBI tried to force Apple to build a back door into their software for a single phone because “terrorism”.

the government is well under way in it’s mission to use 3rd party doctrine to remover every possible right you have. And yes, the Government is more than willing to allow your corporate overlords to own your property on their behalf! DRM is just one example of that! You don’t own your property, and any attempt to disable protective systems so you can make something do what you want is illegal!

Chris-Mouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Funding Governemnt

Speaking about the wall, why are we not building a wall between us and Canada? I mean, the border there is far bigger and easier to cross.

Probably because Canadians look exactly like Americans, which makes it much harder to get the racist xenophobes upset at Canadians crossing the border.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Funding Governemnt

I generally agree with Trumps stance on the immigration issue’s. But I do not like the wall idea at all.

We don’t need a wall and never will. It is a waste of money, pointless pandering, and pure extravaganza! Nothing but Theater and far too many stupid Americans eat it up.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Funding Governemnt

Seriously. Even if you start with the a priori assumption that illegal immigration is an existential problem, how the frak do you think building a wall is going to help anything? Do you how know how the bigger smugglers/coyotes cross the southern border? Tunnels. Giant, miles-long tunnels that go right past the border. And the solution to stop this is… build a wall? My brain hurts.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Funding Governemnt

You might be right, but going after little people has a low cost/benefit ratio, and while going after the big guns might be a bit harder (those pesky corporations and big people fund all the elections) might be more difficult, the cost/benefit ratio would be much higher. That is, if one doesn’t count the loss of election monies against the cost portion.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Funding Governemnt

The best part of your proposal, AAC, is the entertainment to be had from watching the government perform philosophical acrobatics in an effort to avoid having such decidedly communistic activities described as communism, which they are.

Pure, outright communism: state owns All The Things!

And that’s why we shouldn’t get involved in identity politics, kids. Sooner or later authoritarianism creeps in and by the time you start to feel the squeeze you come to realise that whether the jerk in charge is your jerk or not, he is a jerk, and shouldn’t be allowed to have that much power.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ninety Five Percent

95 percent of forfeitures involve people who have done nothing in their lives but sell dope.

This must me the kind of House Alternative Fact much like John Kyl’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does [is provide abortions]

We need some kind of punitive system for bad facts and statistics used on the House floor to support positions.

Some kind of kick-to-the-nads or take-a-bite-of-shit-sandwich penalty.

Anon says:

Surprisingly

Surprisingly, nobody’s mentioned that earning money while in the country illegally, presumably using “stolen” SSN for registration, or while paying no tax at all – implies the proceeds of working in the country illegally are the proceeds of crime. Hence if a person is in the USA illegally, all their assets, bank accounts, etc. are subject to forfeiture as proceeds of crime.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Surprisingly

Look, if you want to argue that those being deported for illegal immigration should have to forfeit any assets they have, that’s one thing. There’s plenty of arguments against that, which I’m not going to get into here, but it’s at least a logically defensible position. That’s not what we’re talking about when we discuss "asset forfeiture", though. Law enforcement officials have no need to prove that someone is in the country illegally, or have committed any sort of crime, in order to seize their assets. It’s horribly open to abuse, as has been shown time and time again.

Even if someone does eventually manage to navigate the byzantine appeals process and reclaim their assets, so much time has passed by then (months, if not years), that real losses have been sustained. It’s not like they get back their assets with interest.

Arguing that the assets of people convicted of a crime are subject to seizure is one thing. Arguing that LEOs can seize whatever they want, on whatever grounds they feel like, from people who are not only not convicted of a crime, but in many cases are not even charged with one, is insane.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Surprisingly

These days, it’s American. And a surprising number of (authoritarian) Americans agree with it enough to not call a certain Cheeto-faced ****gibbon out for his support of it.

There’s your problem. Until conservatives remember that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the law of the land and that conservative principles include upholding the rule of law, we can expect to see the situation getting worse…

…said the conservative. Somehow the notion that due process is an impediment to justice has slipped into the public consciousness. I daresay it’s due to pop culture but really and truly we need to think for ourselves instead of just accepting what we’re fed. Does anyone think for themselves any more?

ECA (profile) says:

WTH?

What does WISCONSIN, need to worry about the MEXICAN wall???

I hope his constituents KNOW they will be spending money for this…
ANYONE want to know a reason to AVOID a state??

“That’s where Mr. and Mrs. Interstate Traveler come into play. A few hundred dollars here and there, and eventually it adds up to real wall-building money.”
How many speed traps can you MAKE..

Speed traps are good business, as Tourists WANT TO GO HOME..And not deal with a Cheap Ticket..

Personanongrata says:

Tax Feeders Delight

Rep. Sensenbrenner Thinks We Can Pay For The Border Wall With More Asset Forfeiture

Tax feeder Sensenbrenner is correct in regard to Asset Forfeiture although he may not have the following scheme in mind:

Every last politician at the federal, state, local level that has been indicted and found guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance and or nonfeasance while holding an elected/appointed office will have their all (as in all) of their assets forfeited and the proceeds used to lessen the criminal tax/fee burden that has been foisted upon the shoulders of all productive American citizens for over a hundred years (eg US Income Tax Act of 1913) by a criminal government that then uses the tax revenue to enrich themselves (benefactors too) and for war (ie death) in support of world empire (ie Pax Americana).

Tax feeder Sensenbrenner is however incorrect in regard to the locale of the border wall. The area in need of a wall is the place where the federal level tax feeding criminals infest most and that is Washington DC and surrounding suburbs. If we build a wall around DC and shut down all communications with the criminal cabal that calls itself the US governemnt Americans may stand a chance in regaining their lost liberties.

Anonymous Coward says:

The sheriff of Notingham

Asset forfeiture is the classic example of highway robbery and Rep. Sensenbrenner is an idiot and a whore for buying into Trumps’s bullshit scheme. As a resident of his district I have
watched his antics for way too many years, he’s now jumped off a cliff into total lunacy. Can dementia be far off? or has it already taken hold?

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: The sheriff of Notingham

Nonsense, I’m sure asset forfeiture isn’t abused at all!

In fact I’m sure Rep. Sensenbrenner will be happy to prove it if a cop threatens to arrest him for political corruption, but agrees to drop the charges if Sensenbrenner will agree to hand over all his assets to law enforcement to escape charges.

After all, if it’s a good system for everyone else, why shouldn’t it be for handling corrupt as hell politicians?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: It's better to not presume.

Even if he was it wouldn’t make it any better. ‘Laughingly’ joking about ruining someone’s career because they did something you don’t like wouldn’t be funny from a random schmuck, when the president of the US does it though? Yeah, that goes from ‘not funny’ to ‘indicator of a serious problem’.

Dave Howe (profile) says:

Actually

I would suggest *strongly supporting* making local law enforcement turn over 100% of any forfeiture taken to the federal government, ringfenced for border patrol improvements.

I virtually guarantee that if they didn’t get to keep any of the cash they seized, their interest in actually spending time seizing assets, selling them and doing the paperwork would plummet….

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