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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As an alternative approach to securing the border, a group of scientists and engineers have proposed the U.S. and Mexico build a sprawling "energy park" of wind turbines, water desalination plants, solar panels and natural gas pipelines.

The big picture: An energy corridor could offer the benefits of a secured physical barrier, since the infrastructure would be well protected, while also creating job opportunities for both migrants and U.S. workers. It has some potential for bipartisan appeal, and President Trump even suggested a similar idea in 2017.

Where it stands: The group's plan was delivered to Congress last month, though it remains to be seen whether it will be incorporated into any legislation.

How it works: The proposal — from 29 academics at universities across the U.S. — calls for $1.1 billion in taxpayer funding to start, but total costs have not been defined.

  • The goal would be to create private-public partnerships to attract private investment from energy companies and manufacturers during the construction phase and later for operation.
  • Supporters argue that the economic and environmental benefits the project promises could far outweigh the costs, providing stable and well-paying job opportunities for migrants and clean energy for generations to come.

Yes, but: There are still many challenges that would need to be addressed, including the total public cost, security standards and potential risks like bribes offered to employees by drug traffickers.

The bottom line: An energy corridor could simultaneously strengthen U.S.–Latin America ties while improving border and energy security.

Sarah E. Hunt is the co-founder and CEO of Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy.

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.

54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan infrastructure group takes on election reform

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The bipartisan group focused on updating the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is seizing on this recess period to court senators more freely.

Why it matters: The group is led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and includes many members who helped reach the bipartisan infrastructure deal. They see themselves as the only hope of creating an election reform package able to muster 60 votes in the Senate.