Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) filed a bill on Tuesday that would cut foreign aid to home countries of immigrants who illegally cross into the U.S. and use the funds to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
What are the details?
The Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act would dock $2,000 in foreign aid to home countries for each citizen caught illegally entering America. Under the law, a fee would also be imposed on international wire transfers from the U.S., and foreign visitors would be charged a $25 fee with their I-94 forms.
Currently, travelers to the U.S. pay $6 with the I-94 application. If Biggs' bill gets passed, that $6 charge would be allocated to the Land Border Inspection Fee Account, another $9 would be sent to the Secure the Southern Border Fund, and the remaining $10 would be used to pay the salaries of border patrol agents as well as bolstering the wall fund.
"Border security was one of the primary issues of the 2016 campaign," Biggs said in a statement. "Americans believed us when we promised to build the wall, secure our border, and enforce our laws."
He added, "Even with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, we have failed to secure the funds for the border wall. In the meantime, our Border Patrol agents suffer demoralizing losses of resources and personnel. Some in Congress view border security as leverage for an amnesty deal, but that would turn crisis into catastrophe."
Biggs isn't the first to float the idea of slashing foreign aid to help curb illegal immigration. In April, President Donald Trump threatened to halt foreign aid to Honduras and other countries altogether unless they stepped in to help stop a "caravan" of people from Central America who were headed to the U.S.
In July last year, House Republicans proposed cutting $10 billion from aid programs during budget negotiations, which is $7 billion less than the president wanted to cut. Efforts to fund a wall have thus far been unsuccessful.
But Biggs' legislation has a direct penalty for countries that allow their citizens to seek refuge in the U.S. illegally, and also creates an actual fund to build the wall.
For the current fiscal year, the United States plans to provide $1.1 billion in aid to all of Latin America and the Caribbean combined. On average, the United States gives about $320 million per year in aid to Mexico. Estimates for the total cost for the border wall range from $21.6 billion to $70 billion.