WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will extend its deployment of active forces on the U.S.-Mexico border to at least Jan. 31, 2019, Pentagon officials said Friday afternoon.
The extension, hinted at earlier in the week by Defense Secretary James Mattis, means active forces will be at the southern border for at least three months.
National Guard forces were deployed to the border in the spring and remain.
“Today, DHS [Department of Homeland Security] submitted a request for assistance to the Department of Defense to extend its support through January 31, 2019. This request refines support to ensure it remains aligned with the current threat, the nature of the mission, and CBP [Customs and Border Protection] operational requirements,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Jamie David told Pentagon reporters in an email.
There are roughly 5,800 active-duty troops and 2,300 Guard forces at the southern border.
The formal notification to the Pentagon on Friday came after DHS sent requests throughout the day to a variety of federal agencies asking them to send parts of their respective police forces to the border operation.
According to an internal memo obtained by Politico, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has requested the deployment of civilian law enforcement officers from several other cabinet departments to the U.S.-Mexico border as early as next week.
“A senior DHS official who confirmed the memo’s authenticity said the Justice Department has already made a commitment to dispatch officers to the border, and that DHS is actively ‘working with’ other departments named in the memo to determine the availability of law enforcement resources. They include the departments of State, Labor, Energy, Transportation, Interior and Justice,” Politico reported on Friday.
The article said the request suggests that security personnel who normally guard diplomats, patrol national parks and protect nuclear weapons could effectively be reassigned and would have the power to arrest migrants who illegally crosses the border.