DHS wants Pentagon to extend troop deployment at southern border

Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security wants military members to stay at the U.S.-Mexico border past the Sept. 30 date they were expected to return home, the Pentagon has confirmed.

About 4,000 National Guard troops are currently at the southern border as part of a mission that began in late 2018 and was meant to end by the start of October.  

But DHS on May 12 requested that the Defense Department “extend DoD support to Customs and Border Protection into fiscal year 2022. The Department is currently considering that request,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said in a statement on Tuesday.

National Guard Bureau chief Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson earlier on Tuesday revealed the DHS request when he told lawmakers that active duty troops may replace the Guardsmen as all options were on the table for such a deployment.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Wednesday would not confirm whether defense officials are considering using active duty troops.

“We are aware of the request… it’s going through analysis now. I won’t speculate on what the answer to the request will be or how it will be sourced,” Kirby told reporters.

Kirby also would not say how many troops DHS requested.

Thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed to the southern border since the Trump administration sought to tout strengthened national security in the final week before the midterm elections.

At its height, more than 2,500 National Guardsmen and more than 5,800 active-duty troops were deployed to the border.

Past administrations have deployed National Guard forces there in the past. But when then-President Trump declared a national emergency in 2019 to acquire funding to build a border wall, active-duty troops were also sent, breaking norms.

President Biden has since ended the national emergency, and stopped any additional border construction.

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