Vice President Kamala Harris twice declared the U.S. southern border is "secure" during an interview Sunday, despite the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who routinely cross into the country every month.

During an interview on "Meet the Press" aired during the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Harris was asked by NBC News anchor Chuck Todd whether the border is secure. The vice president responded that the immigration system was "broken" under the Trump administration and still "needs to be fixed."

"I think that there is no question that we have to do what the president and I asked Congress to do, the first request we made: pass a bill to create a pathway to citizenship," Harris said. "The border is secure, but we also have a broken immigration system, in particular, over the last four years before we came in, and it needs to be fixed."

Todd pushed back against Harris’ claim about the border being secure.

Kamala Harris speaks

Vice President Kamala Harris raised eyebrows by declaring the border "secure" despite the flood of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


"We're going to have two million people cross this border for the first time ever. You're confident this border's secure?" Todd asked.

"We have a secure border in that that is a priority for any nation, including ours and our administration," Harris replied. "But there are still a lot of problems that we are trying to fix given the deterioration that happened over the last four years. We also have to put into place a law and a plan for a pathway for citizenship for the millions of people who are here and are prepared to do what is legally required to gain citizenship."

"We don't have that in place because people are playing politics in a state like this and in Congress," she added, referring to Texas. "By the way, you want to talk about bipartisanship on an issue that at one time was a bipartisan issue both in terms of Republican senators and even presidents."

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National Baptist Convention 142nd annual session in Houston, Sept. 8, 2022. (Bob Daemmerich/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Harris, who was visiting the Lone Star state last week for a number of events, was put in charge of tackling the border crisis by President Biden shortly after they assumed office in 2021.

Meanwhile, the number of migrant encounters at the southern border has smashed through the two-million mark this fiscal year, breaching the already-historic 1.7 million encounters last year, as Border Patrol agents deal with a migrant crisis unprecedented in U.S. history and one that the Biden administration has so far failed to slow.

US Vice President Kamala Harris

Vice President Harris' claim that the border is "secure" comes despite estimates that nearly two million migrants have illegally crossed into the U.S. during the Biden administration. (Bonnie Cash/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Officials estimated to Fox News Digital in July that more than 500,000 illegals were known to have slipped past agents in FY22 so far but have been detected by cameras or other sensors. There have been about 55,000 so-called "gotaways" each month this fiscal year, and that number doesn’t include the individuals who have not been detected by technology.

The number is also in addition to the 389,155 known​ gotaways that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas previously testified there were in all of FY21. 

Migrants sitting

Migrants rest after crossing the Rio Grande as they wait to get apprehended by Border Patrol agents in Eagle Pass, Texas, on June 30, 2022. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Still, the White House is trying to paint the border crisis as under control. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre came under fire last month after she claimed people were not walking into the country illegally.

"That’s not how it works," she said.


Those who have entered illegally have typically been deported if encountered by ICE. However, the Biden administration imposed limits on the agency, restricting them to focus on recent border crossers and national security and public safety threats.

That guidance has since been blocked by a court injunction, but arrests and deportations plummeted under the Biden administration. In FY21, ICE arrested 74,082 noncitizens and deported 59,011 — down from 103,603 arrests and 185,884 removals in FY20 and 143,099 arrests and 267,258 deportations in FY19.

Fox News' Adam Shaw and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.