At either end of the West Texas stretch of the southwest border fence stand two "grade control structures" designed to prevent the Rio Grande -- and the U.S. - Mexico border -- from shifting. The International Boundary and Water Commission says these structures are necessary to prevent the river and border from shifting, but they also allow for easy entry into the United States. Unfortunately, these structures resemble and act as bridges for those wishing to cross the U.S - Mexico border without having to bother with a Border Patrol inspection.
A recent inspection of the bridges has shown they are frequently used by individuals traversing from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and individuals are frequently seen lingering near the bridges on that side of the border. When told about the existence of unguarded bridges traversing the Rio Grande, Texas Governor Rick Perry said the news did not surprise him: "This is a long border.... "It's been discouraging that there's something as obvious (as the bridges) and the federal government hasn't addressed it."
Don Reay, the executive director of the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, suggested eliminating the bridges altogether: "If we are spending so much money on a fence, why not put some into cutting (the bridges) out, eliminating an easy access at a place that is not a port?"
Modifying the structures, however, would not be easy. The bridges were built in accordance to the 1933 Border Convention between the United States and Mexico and any change to the bridges would require a change to the treaty -- something the Mexican government would have to agree to. Sally Spener, of the International Boundary and Water Commission, reiterated this fact in response to the Washington Post's queries: "We would be happy to work with Border Patrol if they have security concerns they've identified.... It would be a challenge, but we'd be happy to discuss it."
Click here to read more about this disturbing lapse in America's border security.
Updated: Tue, Sep 7th 2010 @ 12:20pm EDT