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National Guard border mission extended

The 1,200 National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexican border will remain, at least through the summer.

The Obama administration plans to extend Operation Phalanx, which had been set to end the second week of June.

Officials had indicated last week that the mission would continue, but Republican politicians—including Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl—continued to call for keeping the soldiers on the border.

Funding for the program, $110 million overall and an estimated $34 million in Arizona, has been paid by the Defense Department thus far.

President Barack Obama is set to ask Congress for $30 million to continue the deployment until at least September, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said. Officials previously said they want to extend the operation for a year.

The 1,200 Guardsmen were deployed last fall to support Border Patrol operations, mainly by surveilling border areas. Training began in August, while full-scale operations started Oct. 1.

560 troops, who under federal law are not authorized to make arrests, have been working in Arizona.

The Guardsmen operate surveillance posts and assist Border Patrol agents with logistics.

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Jim Greenhill/U.S. Army

A California National Guardsman monitors the the coast near San Diego in December.