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Kamala Harris pushes back on criticisms of her not visiting the US-Mexico border, saying she hasn't been to Europe either

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 08 Jun 2021

<p><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60bf77aaa7202d0018b8db00-2400/GettyImages-1233324219.jpg" border="0" alt="kamala harris" data-mce-source="Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images" data-mce-caption="Vice President Kamala Harris speaks while Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei listens at the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura on on Monday, June 7, 2021. This week, the Vice President is visiting Guatemala and Mexico to discuss the root causes of migration from the Central American countries in what is known as the Northern Triangle Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Vice President Kamala Harris in a new interview said that she has not yet taken a trip to the southern border because her role involves dealing with the "root causes" of migrants from Central America coming to the US.&nbsp;</p><p>"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," Harris told NBC's Lester Holt in an interview that aired Tuesday.&nbsp;</p><p>When asked about any plans for her to visit the border, Harris said she will "at some point" but repeatedly emphasized that other Biden administration officials have already done so.&nbsp;</p><p>"We are going to the border. We've been to the border," she said. "So this whole thing about the border. We've been to the border. We've been to the border."</p><p>"You haven't been to the border," Holt responded.&nbsp;</p><p>"And I haven't been to Europe," Harris said. "I don't understand the point that you're making. I'm not discounting the importance of the border. ... I care about what's happening at the border. I'm in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration."</p><p>Harris' comments come amid her first foreign trip as vice president to Guatemala and Mexico, where she met with top officials to discuss the underlying issues of migration.&nbsp;</p><p>The US-Mexico border has seen a rapid influx of Central American migrants since the start of 2021, which accelerated during the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/over-171000-migrants-were-apprehended-at-us-border-in-march-2021-4">first few months of the Biden administration</a>.</p><p>President Joe Biden previously <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-press-conference-border-question-immigration-nice-guy-weather-2021-3">said</a> the surge happens "every year" and that issues in home countries such as violence, poverty and extreme weather conditions drive people to come to the US. Biden has warned prospective migrants not to travel to the border as his administration works to reform the legal immigration system.&nbsp;</p><p>During a <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/kamala-harris-tells-guatemalan-migrants-do-not-come-to-us-2021-6">news conference</a> in Guatemala on Monday, Harris reiterated the Biden administration's messaging, telling migrants not to make the "dangerous trek" to the US-Mexico border because they would be turned away.&nbsp;</p><p>"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.&nbsp;</p><p>Biden <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-kamala-harris-immigration-southern-border-negotiations-honduras-guatemala-2021-3">in March</a> tasked Harris with taking the lead on issues related to immigration, particularly focusing on US negotiations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.&nbsp;</p><p>Top Republicans have heavily criticized the Biden administration for what they describe as a mishandling of a "crisis" at the border and have specifically attacked Harris for not heading down there personally.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/kamala-harris-reiterates-her-role-and-defends-not-visiting-the-border-2021-6#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/bpa-plastic-containers-bad-health-risks-obesity-heart-disease-diabetes-2019-2">Why I'm throwing away every plastic thing in my kitchen ASAP</a></p>
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