Vice President Kamala Harris got defensive in an interview Tuesday morning when questioned why she hasn’t made any attempt to visit the US-Mexico border in over the 76 days since President Biden appointed her border czar, snapping back to say that she hasn’t “been to Europe,” either.
In an interview with NBC News just hours before she was scheduled to meet with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Harris was questioned by anchor Lester Holt over on whether she plans to visit the border.
“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” Holt asked.
“At some point,” Harris replied while throwing her hands up. “This whole thing about the border, we’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
When Holt interjected and reminded her that she has not personally visited the border since becoming Vice President, the question seemed to get under Harris’ skin, causing her to laugh it off while giving a snarky response to say that she also hasn’t “been to Europe.”
“And I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border,” she said.
It is not the first time Harris has laughed when asked if she plans to visit the border.
“Not today,” Harris responded to the question before bursting out into laughter outside of Air Force One back in late March. “But I have before, and I’m sure I will again.
During Tuesday’s sitdown interview, Holt noted that Harris has been criticized largely by Republicans over her refusal to visit the border ever since she’s been tasked in late March to lead the administration’s response to the influx of migrants. The NBC News host also pointed out that those calls are also coming from Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents a border district in Texas.
“I care about what’s happening at the border. I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration,” Harris said.
“There may be some who think that that is not important, but it is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them. And so that’s what I’m doing,” she added.
The vice president admitted that the work fixing the “root causes” of the border crisis “is not going to be a quick fix,” and it will “take time to manifest itself.”
“There is not going to be a quick fix. We are not going to see an immediate return. But we’re going to see progress. The real work is going to take time to manifest itself. Will it be worth it? Yes. Will it take some time? Yes,” Harris told Holt.
Harris was also pressed on why Guatemalan migrants should listen to her warning she made yesterday during the joint press conference with Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei in saying they shouldn’t flock in making the dangerous trek to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’ve been working on this issue for a very long time. And the kind of violence and danger that is associated with that trek, especially when we’re talking about from Guatemala through Mexico to the United States,” Harris said.
She added, “It is extremely dangerous. We are looking at a situation where people are fleeing because of hunger, because of the hurricanes, because of the pandemic. So the reason I am here is to address those issues, knowing that the people who are here for generations, they want to stay. They don’t want to leave. But they need opportunity, they need assistance, they need support.”
Giammattei blamed the Biden administration for the migrant crisis in a Sunday interview, pointing to how the new administration is sending mixed messages.
“The message changed too: ‘We’re going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children,’” Giammattei told CBS News Face The Nation. “The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
The Guatemalan president also stated that he and Harris “are not on the same side of the coin” regarding the issue of migration.
“We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving,” Giammattei said.
Biden’s decision in unraveling many of Trump-era border policies by ending the construction of southern border wall and immediately suspending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy would attribute the record surge in the last four months of illegals crossing the border, including thousands of unaccompanied minors.
Harris’ interview comes as preliminary data from Customs and Border Protection reports Monday that approximately 900,000 migrants had been apprehended between Oct. 1 to May 31, the most in the last eight months of a fiscal year since 2006. According to Axios, who obtained the preliminary data, also reported that over 170,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the U.S-Mexico border in May, the most since 2006.
On Tuesday, Harris is scheduled to hold meetings with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ahead of the visit, the Biden administration, according to reports over the weekend, wants Mexico“to increase its enforcement and turn back immigrants on their way to the border.”