WASHINGTON – The United States and Mexico are set to open the West Rail Bypass International Bridge, the first new rail link between the US and Mexico in more than a century, according to published reports. The new crossing was scheduled to launch Aug. 25.

The crossing will connect Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. But the crossing opens amid heated debates over illegal immigration policy and calls for tighter controls at the US-Mexico border, according to published reports.

The West Rail Bypass is one of three developed as part of a federal initiative to make the US-Mexico border more efficient and modern. The other facilities are the Guadalupe-Tornillo Port of Entry in Chihuahua-Texas and the Tijuana Airport Pedestrian Facility.

All the crossings are equipped with X-ray machines that can scan arriving rail cars. Border Patrol agents and sniffer dogs will conduct on-site inspections.