The Department of Homeland Security has asked the Pentagon to keep U.S. troops stationed at the southern border through the end of January.
That would mean a 45-day extension of troops at the border, although it’s unclear whether the same troops will stay or if there will be a rotation, CBS News correspondent David Martin notes. The troops are stationed at the border to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials and other federal personnel.
“Given the ongoing threat at our Southern border – today the Department of Homeland Security submitted a request for assistance to the Department of Defense to extend its support through January 31, 2019,” DHS told reporters. “This request refines support to ensure it remains aligned with the current situation, the nature of the mission, and CBP operational requirements.”
As of last week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said more than 5,700 troops were stationed at the southern border. President Trump has repeatedly expressed frustration over the migrant caravan attempting to reach United States soil. Last week, Mattis said that “some of the troops” would be home by Christmas. The number of troops is expected to go down slightly.
The cost for deploying thousands of troops to the border is $72 million so far and expected to increase.
Near the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House directed the Pentagon to allow troops to use force, including lethal force, when necessary to protect federal personnel near the border.
The memo said troops at the border “may perform those military protective activities that the secretary of defense determines are reasonably necessary to ensure the protection of federal personnel, including a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search.”
Mr. Trump has emphasized that he’s willing to continue to beef up border security at whatever cost necessary and wants billions more from Congress — $5 billion for next year — to build his wall. The president has also threatened to possibly shut down the government if he doesn’t receive that funding. Democrats are willing to allocate $1.5 billion.