The Department of Homeland Security has requested that thousands of active-duty troops deployed to the southern border stay through January 31, 2019, the Pentagon said Friday afternoon. Word of an extension to the controversial deployment—considered a political stunt by Democrats and some Republicans—beyond its December 15 end date has circulated for days and was first reported by NPR on Wednesday. Members of the migrant caravan, which prompted the militarization of the border ahead of the midterm elections, days ago had tear gas fired at them by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents; the military is deployed in support of CBP but did not fire the gas. A Pentagon spokesperson, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, said Defense Secretary James Mattis, who is in transit to speak at an annual defense symposium in California, has yet to approve the DHS request. Military Times reported that the request is for 4,000 troops to remain, down from the approximately 5,800 currently on the border.