Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told MSNBC Friday that he believes President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico has become a “racist symbol.”
"The wall itself, this 30-foot construction that many of the border guards say is not effective as a deterrent is not cost effective, is a 4th century strategy for a 20th century challenge, that has become a racist symbol," Merkley said.
Sen. Merkley was then asked if he agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that the wall was “immoral.”
"I do agree that it has become a symbol of an approach, an attitude towards those fleeing persecution around the world and arriving on our border," he replied. "It is now a symbol of child separation, a system of child prisons across this country that in December had 15,000 children under the Trump organization. Family internment camps that the president has been seeking to expand and just a very callous attitude towards those who arrive, here in our country, a country where most all of us are immigrants."
Democrats have taken different positions on the idea of a wall or barriers along the border as negotiations to re-open the government continue.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) broke with Pelosi earlier this week, saying he thought “physical barriers are a part of the solution,” and that a wall “if it’s protecting people it’s moral, if it’s imprisoning people it may well be immoral but that’s not the issue.”
Two bills to re-open the government failed in the Senate Thursday. One was a GOP-backed compromise that would’ve provided temporary protection for some DACA recipients and given President Trump his desired $5 billion in border wall funding. The other bill was a proposal from Democrats that would’ve temporarily funded the government until February 8th and did not provide any additional funding for Trump’s wall.
The government shutdown reached its 35th day Friday.