Kamala Harris Spars With Lester Holt Over Not Visiting Border: 'I Don't Understand Your Point'

An interview with Vice President Kamala Harris became briefly tense when NBC News anchor Lester Holt pressed her about not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border as migrants continue crossing over in record numbers.

"We've been to the border," Harris responded to Holt's questions at one point. When Holt specified that she hasn't been to the border in person, she answered, "And I haven't been to Europe.… I don't understand the point that you're making."

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Vice President Kamala Harris during the press conference at the Palace of Culture on June 7, in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She was interviewed by NBC News' Lester Holt while in Guatemala. Getty

Harris sat down with Holt for the interview from Guatemala, which is part of her first international trip since taking office. Along with Guatemala, she will visit Mexico to discuss how to curb the recent influx of migrants into the United States.

In March, President Joe Biden announced that Harris would be in charge of his administration's response to the situation at the U.S. southern border. Since then, she has faced criticism for not having visited the border.

The interview conducted by Holt will air on NBC Nightly News on Tuesday night, but portions of the talk were shown earlier on Tuesday on Today, MSNBC, and on some of NBC's online outlets.

A segment of the interview that aired on Today was also shared on the show's official YouTube channel.

During the interview, Holt asked Harris, "The question that has come up, and you heard it here, and you'll hear it again I'm sure, is, 'Why not visit the border? Why not see what Americans are seeing in this crisis?'"

"Well, we are going to the border," Harris replied. "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."

Holt brought up the subject again later in the interview. He asked, "Do you have any plans to visit the border?"

"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," Harris said.

Holt then pressed her why she had not made a trip there personally. He said, "You haven't been to the border."

"And I haven't been to Europe," Harris replied. "And, I mean, I don't understand the point that you're making. I'm not discounting the importance of the border."

Holt then mentioned that not only have Republican lawmakers criticized her for not visiting the border, but Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas has asked her and the president to come to his border district in south Texas.

Harris answered, "I care about what's happening at the border. I'm in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration."

"There may be some who think that that is not important," Harris continued. "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."

Newsweek contacted Harris' office for further comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Update: A earlier version characterized the migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as "illegal."