CALEXICO (California) • US Vice-President Mike Pence blasted "weak" and "ineffective" immigration laws during a trip to the border with Mexico, as a caravan of immigrants two hours to the west prepared to claim asylum in America.
Mr Pence's remarks came as he toured a construction site for a barrier in the Californian border town of Calexico, 200km east of the San Diego-Tijuana crossing where the group of at least 150 Latin Americans has amassed.
"I stand before you today when most of the attention of the nation has been focused on the so-called caravan," Mr Pence said on Monday. "As President (Donald Trump) said on Saturday, this situation is a direct result of our weak immigration laws and our porous border."
The visit came after the Latin American migrants arrived on Sunday in the border town of Tijuana, part of a caravan of more than 1,000 people who set out from southern Mexico in late March.
Mr Pence called them "victims" of activists, smugglers and the media and urged Congress to close "dangerous loopholes" allowing people to claim asylum in the United States rather than the first safe country they enter.
Eight members of the caravan crossed into the US on Monday, according to the Washington Post, where the immigration authorities had launched the process determining whether their asylum claims would grant them entry.
The Department of Justice separately said it had filed criminal charges against 11 "suspected members of the so-called 'caravan'," accusing them of illegal entry into the US. It said one of those charged had allegedly already been deported once.