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President Biden with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the White House in March. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration launched an initiative to find deported U.S. veterans and bring them and their families back to America "to ensure they are able to obtain VA benefits to which they may be entitled," the Departments of Homeland Security and Veteran Affairs announced Friday.

Why it matters: Legal immigrants can and do join the U.S. military, and potentially hundreds of people have been deported after serving, according to the Washington Post.

What they're saying: "The Department of Homeland Security recognizes the profound commitment and sacrifice that service members and their families have made to the United States of America,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Friday.

  • “We are committed to bringing back military service members, veterans, and their immediate family members who were unjustly removed and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they may be entitled," he added.

The big picture: DHS announced it will halt all pending deportation proceedings against veterans or their immediate family members and remove certain naturalization barriers for those eligible.

  • DHS and VA are attempting to ensure that deported veterans receive health benefits, which include coronavirus vaccinations for them and their families.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement have deported veterans for decades though the exact number of deportations is unknown because the government did not screen them before their deportation, according to the Post.

Go deeper

Senate Dems express "outrage over the cruel treatment" of Haitian migrants

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) along with 15 other senators sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week denouncing the U.S. treatment of Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers at the border.

State of play: The senators called on the Biden administration to appoint a new special envoy for Haiti and work with international partners to secure protections for Haitian migrants, as well as solutions for "long-term stability of Haiti."

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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