(CNN)A group of more than 100 former national security heavyweights from both political parties protested President Donald Trump's executive order on refugees in a letter Monday, calling on the heads of three US government agencies to use their own power to ease some of the restrictions.
Ex-national security officials in both parties protest Trump order
"This Order not only jeopardizes tens of thousands of lives," they wrote, "it has caused a crisis right here in America and will do long-term damage to our national security."
The letter's signatories are former Cabinet secretaries, generals and high-ranking officials from Democratic and Republican administrations, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Director of the CIA Michael Hayden.
"Many of us have worked for years to keep America safe from terrorists," they wrote. "Many of us were on the job working for our country on 9/11 and need no reminder just how vital it is to destroy terrorist networks and bring partners to our side in that global effort."
"Simply put," they continued, "this Order will harm our national security."
The letter was addressed to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and Acting Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, whose agencies are responsible for implementing and enforcing the order. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford were also sent copies.
"We know that your agencies did not create this situation and we particularly respect that many of you are working to mitigate its damage," the letter noted. "Effective immediately, you can apply the discretion given to you under the President's Order to admit into the country the men, women and children who are currently still stranded in airports."
"The process for doing this is well known to the security professionals within your departments," the writers added. "We urge you to execute it."