“…And I haven’t been to Europe…”, Vice President Kamala Harris said followed by some laughter in an interview this week with Lester Holt. The Vice President had been asked by Holt if she was going to visit the US and Mexico border, and why she hasn’t yet visited the border.
In March, Vice President Harris was tasked by President Biden to take charge of the crisis at the southern border, but has yet to make a trip there herself. This week, she is visiting Guatemala and Mexico, claiming that her main role is to discover the “root” causes of the surge in illegal immigration. She is facing criticism from both sides of the aisle this week after comments made during this trip.
In the interview with Lester Holt, she was pressed on why she had not yet been to the border and if she plans on going. Her response mentioned that Biden staff members had already been down for visits. Holt made a point to ask if she, personally, would make a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border.
She said, “…And I haven’t been to Europe…” followed by laughter. This comment was not well received by Republicans in office, and received plentiful criticism from Republican leadership, including House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy.
Harris is also taking some hits from her Democratic Colleagues in the House and Senate for remarks she made in one of her speeches in Guatemala. In this speech, she told potential immigrants not to come to the border if they do not have documentation.
The Vice President stated: “I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: do not come. Do not come.”
Prominent progressives within the Democratic Party disagreed with her statement and made their opinions well-known. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Tweeted that “This is disappointing to see.”
The Administration’s goal for the trip to Guatemala was to address the border crisis from its roots rather than the final stop along the way, being the US- Mexico Border. Harris is also set to meet with President Lopez Obrador of Mexico to discuss the issue.
Some border security and immigration experts believe that there are definitely ways that Mexico could help cut down the traffic at the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly through enforcing its own border security along its southern border with Guatemala. Mexico has already commenced an effort to “significantly reinforce efforts to detain U.S.-bound migrants who illegally cross its border with Guatemala.”
Halfway through 2021, the United States has seen more illegal immigration and traffic at the southern border than any year before 2006. While the Biden Administration has yet to officially acknowledge this surge as a crisis, polling suggests that two-thirds of Americans view this as a border crisis.
This influx of immigrants to the border began upon Biden’s taking office, though the Trump Administration experienced several surges of its own (though none on such a large scale).