Vice President Kamala Harris laughed after being asked why she had not visited the U.S.-Mexico border since President Joe Biden tapped her to lead the effort in tackling the migration crisis.
"And I haven't been to Europe," Harris said with a laugh on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "And I mean, I don't understand the point that you're making. I'm not discounting the importance of the border."
Earlier in the interview, when NBC News anchor Lester Holt first asked Harris "why not visit the border," Harris evaded answering the question directly.
"Well, we are going to the border," Harris said. "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."
After Holt again challenged Harris, asking whether she had "any plans to visit the border," the vice president replied: "At some point, you know, we are going to 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."
According to Axios, preliminary Customs and Border Protection data shows the number of migrants illegally crossing the border this fiscal year is already the most since 2006 — with four months left.
In March, Biden gave Harris the task of taking charge of immigration from Central America.
Members of both major parties have criticized Harris for not visiting the southern border. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, has joined many Republicans in encouraging Biden and Harris to visit.
NBC News interviewed Harris in Guatemala, the initial stop on her first foreign trip as vice president.
"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," Harris said Tuesday during a news conference.
The vice president told NBC News her focus was "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" she said. "And so that's what I'm doing."
Harris' trip, which will include a visit to Mexico, is intended to identify "the reason people are arriving at our border" and strengthen diplomatic ties with Latin America.
She was scheduled to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.
Politico reported Harris also will participate in roundtable discussions with Mexican women entrepreneurs and labor leaders.
"There is not going to be a quick fix," Harris told NBC News. "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."
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