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Dick Durbin OK With Fence, Admits Wall Fight 'Could Be a Matter of Words'

On Friday morning, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) suggested the battle over funding for President Donald Trump's border wall "could be a matter of words." He insisted that Democrats support border security and would be willing to invest in fencing, but dug in his heels against a wall. When pressed by CNN's John Berman, he admitted the fight could be symbolic, however.

"Look, if an extraterrestrial came to earth right now without knowing anything and tried to solve this problem, he might say, ‘Well, why not do $1.6 billion and call it a fence and not a border wall?’ Would Democrats allow and pay for some new fencing?" John Berman, co-anchor of CNN's "New Day," asked Durbin.

"Well, I can tell you we’ve had fencing in the past. I’m sure we will in the future," Durbin conceded. He insisted, however, that "it won’t be a big, long, beautiful 2,000-mile wall."

Durbin pivoted to the drug epidemic, noting that "80 percent of the narcotics coming into the United States come through ports of entry. And fewer than one out of five vehicles are being scanned to see if they have contraband, firearms, or even victims of human trafficking. I’ll invest $300 million into making sure that those ports of entry start stopping narcotics. That’s good border security investment."

Berman pressed him on the wall, however. "When I hear you say that though, I don’t hear you ruling out the possibility of some new fencing," he noted. "So maybe if everyone just started calling this a barrier and stopped using wall, there might be some progress here."

"Well, it could be," Durbin conceded. "It could be a matter of words."

This answer suggested Democrats are focused on denying Trump his wall, in order to score political points. They might be willing to dedicate the $5.7 billion the president asked for toward steel slats, so long as they're approved as "fencing," rather than a "wall."

All the talk about walls being pointless — because they're old, because people could take the extreme time and effort to tunnel beneath them, et cetera — is an utter charade. Democrats love to insist that "we should build bridges, not walls," but they seem just fine with building fences.

A wall will not solve America's problems with illegal immigration or fix the influx of drugs into the country. But it will make a difference, and Trump won on this issue in 2016. Democrats should give him a win on this, but they seem utterly unwilling to work with the president on anything. That is quite revealing.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.