Vice President Mike Pence tours border wall in Imperial Valley

SAN DIEGO — Vice President Mike Pence stood at the U.S. border with Mexico, some 100 miles east of San Diego Monday, and said federal agents will no longer “catch and release” those persons violating immigration laws.

After receiving a briefing on the construction of the border wall from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, Pence addressed Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol employees at the nearby El Centro Border Patrol Station, 18 miles north of the new replacement border fence under construction in Calexico.

During his speech, the vice president reinforced the need to curb immigration, legal or otherwise.

“Under this president, this administration, we will not rest until Congress passes legislation that will modernize our immigration laws and remove the message and the incentive of people to the south to try to enter our country by any means,” Pence said.

Pence specifically mentioned “cracking down on catch and release,” the unofficial name for a protocol where unlawful immigrants are released while they wait for a hearing with an immigration judge. He also said the U.S. should end chain migration and lottery immigration systems, combat so-called sanctuary cities and fund a border wall.

Plans for the Calexico border fence, a replacement barrier, began in 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported. President Donald Trump sowed confusion last month when he tweeted photos of the Calexico construction and wrote “Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL!”

CBP officials had previously emphasized the Calexico border barrier shouldn’t be confused with the yet-to-be-built wall that Trump made a central promise of his presidential campaign.

Air Force Two arrived at Naval Air Facility El Centro Monday morning. Pence departed by motorcade to nearby Calexico to tour the barrier construction site joined by Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez, Director of Field Operations Pete Flores and Yuma Branch Director Sylvia Carrizozo.

Afterward, the vice president made his remarks to DHS and Border Patrol personnel. He discussed during his speech the so-called caravan of migrants that arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry on Monday, an occurrence that “cries out for action.”

“As President Trump said on Saturday night, this situation is a direct result of our weak immigration laws and our porous border.¬†¬†This caravan, like those who have gone before, is also rightly understood as a deliberate attempt to undermine the laws of this country and the sovereignty of the United States,” Pence said.

The caravan migrants, many of them fleeing gang violence in Honduras, are seeking asylum in the U.S. Pence said they’re being exploited by “open- border political activists and an agenda-driven media.”

Pence made his way to Imperial County from Los Angeles, where he arrived Saturday afternoon for a private tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. He also attended fundraisers in Malibu and Beverly Hills.