Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday snapped at an interviewer when he pressed her on why she hasn’t visited the southern border within the 76 days since President Biden put her accountable for the record-smashing unlawful immigration crisis — snarking that she hasn’t “been to Europe,” either.
“Sooner or later, you recognize, we’re going to the border,” a defensive Harris advised NBC anchor Lester Holt on “As we speak” in Guatemala on her first worldwide journey since taking workplace — 1,308 miles away from the southern U.S.-Mexico crossing.
“We’ve been to the border. So this complete factor concerning the border, we’ve been to the border,” Harris mentioned, to which Holt replied, “You haven’t been to the border.”
Harris, seeming to snigger at her personal joke, responded: “And I haven’t been to Europe. And I imply, I don’t perceive the purpose that you simply’re making. I’m not discounting the significance of the border.”
Harris’ feedback come as Border Patrol continues to be overwhelmed by the crisis, which has seen the most important variety of unlawful immigrants since 2006 infiltrate the U.S. this fiscal yr.
Practically 900,000 migrants have been stopped by Customs and Border Safety from Oct. 1 to Could 31, in accordance to preliminary information obtained by Axios on Monday.
Pressed by reporters later Tuesday, White Home Press Secretary Jen Psaki mentioned Harris “could” go to the US-Mexico border finally as Harris’ comment drew widespread blowback.
“I assume that sooner or later she could go to the border. We’ll see,” Psaki mentioned at her day by day press briefing. Later, Psaki added, “Whether it is constructive and it strikes the ball ahead for her to go to the border, she actually could try this.”
Harris drew withering Republican criticism for laughing off the notion of a border go to to Holt.
“The Vice President thinks the border crisis is a hilarious joke,” tweeted Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) wrote, “I have been to the border and it’s nothing to snigger about. Thanks to Biden/Harris insurance policies, officers are stretched skinny and each border communities and migrants are struggling. This isn’t a joke, it’s a crisis in your watch.”
The problem dogged Harris all through her mission overseas. On Monday, Harris dismissed a reporter’s query at a press convention in Guatemala relating to why she hasn’t visited the southern border, saying that such a journey could be a mere “grand gesture.”
Whereas on the bottom in Mexico Metropolis on Tuesday, a reporter requested Harris why, given the proximity, she wouldn’t cease by the border on her manner again to Washington.
“I’ve been to the border earlier than. I will go once more,” Harris insisted. “However when I’m in Guatemala coping with root causes, I assume we should always have a dialog about what’s occurring in Guatemala.”
At a Tuesday night press convention in Mexico Metropolis, Harris was requested two extra instances about when she would go to the border, however averted setting a date.
“I will and I have earlier than,” Harris mentioned at first, noting that she is from California and brushing previous whether or not she would go to once more “quickly.” When a totally different reporter requested “how quickly” she would go to the border, Harris talked previous the inquiry, saying “the difficulty of root causes isn’t going to be solved in a single journey that took two days.”
Harris has confronted stress for months to go to the border. Two days earlier than she was named as Biden’s migration czar in March, she laughed on an airport runway and mentioned “not in the present day!” when requested if she would go to the border.
The White Home has tried to make clear that her function is restricted to addressing the “root causes” of migration from the three-country Northern Triangle of Central America, which incorporates El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The three international locations are dwelling to the vast majority of unaccompanied minors and households surging to the border this yr.
Nonetheless it’s the surge from these international locations on the border — and her unwillingness to see the results of it firsthand — that has drawn sharp criticism.
Certainly, Harris mentioned in her ready feedback in Mexico Metropolis one thing that US residents dwelling alongside the southern border would argue ought to apply to them and never simply the Central Individuals.
“I additionally consider that in order for you to repair a drawback, you might have to go to the place the issue exists. If you need to tackle the wants of a folks, you need to meet these folks. You need to spend time with these folks,” mentioned Harris.
“As a result of the one manner we are able to truly repair the issue is to perceive the issue.”
Harris’ journey to the area obtained off to a troublesome begin when Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei blamed the Biden administration for the migrant crisis in a Sunday interview, saying US officers despatched combined messages.
Harris was then greeted at Guatemala’s presidential palace by pro-Donald Trump protesters who brandished indicators that mentioned “Trump received” and “Go dwelling.”
Critics attribute the border surge to Biden’s insurance policies, together with his determination to finish Trump’s “Stay in Mexico” coverage that required most asylum-seekers from Central America to stay in Mexico whereas US courts reviewed their claims of persecution.
Biden additionally ended building of Trump’s US-Mexico border wall and urged Congress to cross laws that will set up a path to citizenship for many unlawful immigrants. Republicans mentioned the laws and Biden’s coverage modifications created new “pull” components for unlawful immigration.
The variety of US-Mexico border detentions soared to a 21-year month-to-month excessive of greater than 178,000 in April, the latest month for which official statistics can be found.