NBC anchor Lester Holt pressed Vice President Kamala Harris on why she has yet to visit the U.S.-Mexico border despite being put in charge of the nation’s migrant crisis, prompting the veep to wave off the question with a laugh.
Amid her two-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico to address the root causes of the surge of migration at the United States’ southern border, Harris sat down with Holt for an interview set to air Tuesday night on NBC. And while expressing cautious optimism about the ongoing immigration issues, the vice president warned that there is no “quick fix” to the situation.
“We are not going to see an immediate return. But we’re going to see progress,” she declared. “The real work is going to take time to manifest itself. Will it be worth it? Yes. Will it take some time? Yes.”
At the same time, Holt noted that Harris has been criticized—largely by Republicans—over her refusal to visit the border ever since she’s been tasked by President Joe Biden to lead the administration’s response to the influx of migrants.
“The question that has come up and you heard it here and you’ll hear it again I’m sure, is, ‘Why not visit the border? Why not see what Americans are seeing in this crisis?’” Holt wondered aloud.
“Well, we are going to the border,” Harris responded. “We have to deal with what’s happening at the border, there’s no question about that. That’s not a debatable point. But we have to understand that there’s a reason people are arriving at our border and ask what is that reason and then identify the problem so we can fix it.”
Later on in the interview, the NBC News anchor circled back to that topic, challenging Harris on her personal absence from the border thus far, prompting the vice president to seemingly get a bit annoyed by the question.
“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” Holt asked.
“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris replied. “We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
Holt shot back: “You haven’t been to the border.”
“And I haven’t been to Europe!” Harris exclaimed with an awkward laugh. “And I mean—I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
Holt, meanwhile, pointed out that it wasn’t just Republicans urging Harris to personally make an appearance at the border, noting that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) has repeatedly called on the Biden administration to visit the region.
“I care about what’s happening at the border,” Harris contended. “I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration. 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.”