Vice President Kamala Harris finally conceded she would visit the Southern border — 24 hours after trying to dismiss the idea entirely.
The issue threatened to overshadow her entire visit to Guatemala and Mexico to meet with officials in those countries to address the “root causes” of migration.
Monday, June 7: Guatemala Press Conference
Harris dismissed a question of whether she or President Joe Biden would travel to the border, arguing she would focus more on “significant” and “tangible” work in foreign countries to address the “root causes” of migration.
“I will continue to be focused on that kind of work as opposed to grand gestures,” she said, defying repeated demands from Republicans to visit the border.
Monday, June 7: Interview with Lester Holt
On Monday evening, NBC anchor Lester Holt questioned Harris about whether or not she would travel to the border:
“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” he asked.
Harris 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.”
“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt replied.
“And I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris said with a laugh. “And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
Tuesday, June 8: Press gaggle with reporters in Mexico:
In Mexico, reporters again asked Harris about visiting the border:
“Listen. I’ve been to the border before, I will go again,” Harris replied. “But when I’m in Guatemala dealing with root causes, I think we should have a conversation about what’s going on in Guatemala.”
Tuesday, June 8, press conference in Mexico:
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond asked Harris again about her willingness to commit to visiting the border.
“Jeremy let me tell you something. Yes, I will. And I have before,” she replied. “Listen. Anybody, especially if you’re from California, you know, I’ve spent a lot of time on the border. Both going there physically and aware of the issues.”
She said she prioritized what was happening on the border and addressing the reasons for migration:
Let’s talk about what’s going on in the places that are causing the issue at the border. I think it’s shortsighted for any of us who are in the business of problem-solving to suggest we’re only going to respond to the reaction as opposed to addressing the cause.
NBC’s Monica Alba asked Harris to explain why she dismissed the idea of visiting the border on Monday and had shifted her thinking to commit to the idea. Harris replied:
This work is the work that must be done with a commitment to going deep, and making a commitment over a period of time, knowing that nothing we can do will address it overnight. I am committed to doing what is necessary in the time that we have to deal with the complexities of this.
Harris, however, did not offer a timeline for when she planned to visit the border.