Vice President Kamala Harris snapped at a reporter on Friday in El Paso, Texas ahead of her visit to a processing center and Border Patrol facility when she was asked why it had taken her so long to make the trip.
Harris had gone more than 90 days without a visit to the southern border since being named border czar.
Upon her arrival in El Paso, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Harris why right now was the time to make her first trip to the border.
“It’s not my first trip, I’ve been to the border many times,” she snapped, apparently referring to her visits to the border as a senator.
She said the visit builds on the efforts made during her trips to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month.
“Because as I’ve long said, I said back in March I was going to come to the border so this is not a new plan, but the reality of it is we have to deal with the causes and we have to deal with the effects,” she said.
“And being in Guatemala, and being in Mexico talking with Mexico as a partner frankly on the issue, was about addressing the causes and coming to the border at the advice and invitation of [Representative Veronica Escobar (D., Texas)] is about looking at the effects of what we have seen happening in Central America,” she added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Harris’ absence at the border until now during a briefing on Wednesday, saying, “I will also note that I’ve said that when it’s the right time, she will go visit the border.”
The trip with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin and Escobar comes just days before former President Donald Trump is set to visit the border with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a group of House Republicans.
Psaki dodged a question about whether there was a political calculation in having Harris finally visit the border ahead of Trump’s trip.
“I would say that we have no way to predict what former President Trump will say when he goes to the border,” she said, adding that the administration’s view is that Harris and Mayorkas visiting the border to “assess and take a look at progress that’s been made” will not “prevent or change what the former president of the United States says when he goes to the border in another couple of days.”
Earlier this month, Harris deflected questions about why she has not yet visited the southern border after being tasked with handling the “root causes” of migration, saying “we’ve been to the border.”
“I – at some point – you know – we are going to the border. We’ve been to the border,” Harris said. “So this whole – this whole – this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
NBC’s Lester Holt pushed back, noting Harris had not been to the border herself while in office.
“I – and I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t – I don’t understand the point that you’re making,” Harris said, adding “I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”