Harris defends not going to border: ‘And I haven’t been to Europe’

Vice President Harris participates in a bilateral meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei at the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Guatemala City
Getty Images

Vice President Harris defended her decision to not go to the border during a combative moment in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on her trip to Guatemala and Mexico. 

Holt repeatedly noted that Harris, who is charged in the Biden administration with handling the flow of Central American migrants at the border, hasn’t actually been to the border. Holt twice asked Harris directly if she would visit the border.

The second time, Harris responded with a bit of incredulity. 

“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris told Holt when asked if she plans to visit the border. “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.” 

“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt responded. 

“And I haven’t been to Europe,” she replied. “And I mean, I don’t … understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.” 

Holt responded by noting that Republicans have criticized Harris over not going to the border. He also said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who represents a district along the border, has said Harris and President Biden need to see what’s happening at the border.  

“I care about, listen, I care about what’s happening at the border,” Harris responded. “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.”

The Biden administration has faced criticism from the left and right over the border, with Republicans warning of a growing crisis and Democrats arguing that the Biden administration needs to do more to help minors crossing the border.

Videos, photos and other reports have surfaced showing smugglers throwing children over border fences or abandoning them during the trek to the United States. The Biden administration on Monday announced new actions to combat smuggling and trafficking in Central America. 

During a speech in Guatemala on Monday during her first foreign trip, Harris sent a message to Central American migrants looking to travel to America: “Do not come, do not come.” 

“I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” she said. “At the same time I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States Mexico border: Do not come, do not come.”

Tags Henry Cuellar Joe Biden Mexico–United States border Presidency of Joe Biden Texas
See all Hill.TV See all Video