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, there 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.