Last night, Vice President Kamala Harris sat down with a journalist to take questions about her trip to Central America.

Disturbingly, she turned a serious line of questions probing when she would visit our southern border into a joke. While laughing, she expressed disbelief and disdain that she would even be asked such a question. 

Although President Joe Biden tasked VP Harris with fixing the border crisis, she is avoiding going to the southern border to see for herself and to hear from border officials and local lawmakers the significant problems there: illegal border-crossing at a decade high, children being abandoned by smugglers, people losing their lives, criminal enterprises flourishing, and health concerns abounding.

As a U.S. senator, Harris made the trip to the southern border to see children separated from their parents. What is she running from now? 

The story

Kamala Harris is on her first international trip as vice president, and she’s visiting Central American countries to—in her words—address the root causes of the spike in illegal migration.

During an interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, she was grilled about why she had not visited the southern border yet. Harris was defensive even as she laughed off the question.

You can watch the full interview, but here is the specific exchange that should give all Americans pause:

Holt: “Do you have any plans to visit the border?”

Harris: “At some point. This whole thing about the border, we’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”

Holt: “You haven’t been to the border?”

Harris: “And I haven’t been to Europe,” she responded, laughing. “I don’t understand the point you’re making.”

Holt: “Well, Republicans have certainly come after you on this…”

Harris: “I care about this, and I care about what is happening at the border. I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration. There may be some who do not think that is important. But it is my firm belief that if we care about what is happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them. So that’s what I’m doing.”

The implications

We can read between the lines: Vice President Harris is not planning to visit the border anytime soon. 

Yet her attention and push for policy changes, namely reinstating the Trump policies reversed by the Biden administration, are needed now more than ever. 

The numbers do not lie. As Axios reported yesterday, from October 1 to May 31, nearly 900,000 migrants were stopped at the border. There were more than 170,000 apprehensions last month tracking with numbers over the past two months that hit two-decade highs. Because migrants worldwide believe that they may gain entry, increasing numbers of people from other continents are trekking to the border.

Getting a handle on the spike in border crossing should be goal number one for Harris and can be accomplished immediately. That would mean that Biden and Harris admit they were wrong and hasty to overturn Trump-era immigration rules.

Only then, though, is it wise for Harris to start tackling “root causes” of migration such as natural disasters, gang violence, and poverty. These are intractable problems that won’t be fixed overnight, over a year, or perhaps over many years. 

In the meantime, if policies are not changed to reduce the incentives for migrants to make the costly and generous trek to the southern border, then any efforts to fix their home countries will be fruitless.

In addition, there must be some acknowledgment of the systemic corruption in the countries Harris aims to fix. There may not be much that the U.S. can do to ensure changes occur when some of these elected officials are working for the drug cartels that spawned much of the violence driving people away.

Stopping illegal immigration is no easy task, but the Trump administration worked with Mexico and other nations to implement policies that prevented many migrants from attempting to cross the border illegally. Some of those policies have been reversed, leading to the current crisis. 

The crisis is no laughing matter and the American people deserve answers not laughter from the second most powerful woman in the country.