Over 100 former officials who served under past presidents from both parties signed a letter calling on the current heads of multiple government agencies to urge President Donald Trump to “revisit and rescind” his recent executive order on immigration and refugees.
The signatories wrote that a “blanket ban” on visitors from certain countries is “counterproductive from a security standpoint, and beneath the dignity of our great nation.”
Signatories include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration, and President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice. Richard Clarke, who served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, also signed the document.
The letter, obtained by Politico, is addressed to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, acting Attorney General Sally Yates and acting Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.
It says Trump’s order will “harm our national security” and that “we risk placing our military and diplomatic efforts at risk by sending a clear message to those citizens and all Muslims that the United States does not have their backs.”
Trump on Friday signed an executive order imposing a 90-day ban on nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries entering the United States. The order also includes a 120-day ban on admitting any refugees and an indefinite stop on accepting refugees from war-torn Syria.
“Moreover, because the Order discriminates against Muslim travelers and immigrants, it has already sent exactly the wrong message to the Muslim community here at home and all over the world: that the U.S. government is at war with them based on their religion,” the letter says.
The signatories said they are worried department heads and members of the intelligence community were not able to vet the order. Multiple lawmakers have claimed they were unaware of Trump’s executive action until after he signed it.
“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 letter states.
Over the weekend, travelers were detained in multiple U.S. airports as border officials sought to comply with the new order. Those detained reportedly included green-card holders and people who already obtained U.S. visas. Protests broke out at airports across the country, and a judge issued an emergency stay over the weekend, ruling that previously approved refugees or those with valid visas who were in transit should not be turned back.
“The suddenness of this Order is also troubling,” the letter reads. “The fact that individuals cleared for admission were literally in the air as the Order went into effect speaks to the haste with which it was developed and implemented.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the necessary officials were prepped for the order, and that any public advance notice would have allowed people to flood into the U.S.