How easy is it to cross illegally into the United States? As easy as a walk across the bridge.

Posted on August 19, 2010

While billions have been spent on a border fence between Texas and Mexico in order to keep illegal crossings down,  there are two footbridges located along that very fence which provide easy passage across the Rio Grande river and right in to Texas. 

From The Washington Times:

ACALA, Texas (AP) | On each side of a towering West Texas stretch of the $2.4 billion border fence designed to block people from illegally entering the country are two metal footbridges, clear paths into the United States from Mexico.

The footpaths that could easily guide illegal immigrants and smugglers across the Rio Grande without getting wet seem to be there because of what amounts to federal linguistics. While just about anyone would call them bridges, the U.S.Mexico group that owns them calls them something else.

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bridge, it’s a grade-control structure,” said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission, which maintains the integrity of the 1,200-mile river border between the U.S. and Mexico. The structures under the spans help prevent the river – and therefore the international border – from shifting.

Call them what you will, they allow free passage into the United States from Mexico.  The article says it’s unclear how often the bridges are used, but it’s “common” to see people ” lingering around the crossing or others playing in the river in the area.”   I’m going out on a limb here and guessing they are used frequently. 

These “grade-control structures,” which were built in the 1930’s, still don’t have any type of crossing enforcement in the vicinity for monitoring.   Even with the uptick in drug trafficking and increasing drug cartel violence in Mexico, these bridges stand open for whomever wants to cross.  Besides people just coming to “look for work,” the bridges are an open invitation to drug smugglers and possibly terrorists.  And, they’re just another example of how our federal government does not take border enforcement seriously.

You can click on the Times link above to get a shot of one of the bridges and read the rest of the story.