John Kelly, former DHS secretaries call on Trump, Congress to end shutdown

Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and four other former Homeland Security secretaries are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE and Congress to end the ongoing partial government shutdown and “fund the critical mission of DHS.”

The letter says that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees have been leaving the department because they cannot continue to work unpaid as the shutdown drags on, according to a copy of the letter obtained by NBC News

“DHS employees who protect the traveling public, investigate and counter terrorism, and protect critical infrastructure should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others for assistance in feeding their families and paying their bills while they steadfastly focus on the mission at hand,” the letter reads. “This is unconscionable.”

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Kelly served as Trump’s Homeland Security secretary before becoming chief of staff. He left the White House in December, after the shutdown began.

He was not publicly critical of the president during his time in the White House, but reportedly told aides that Trump was not up to the job of being president, and called it "the worst [expletive] job I’ve ever had."

The letter was also signed by former President George W. Bush’s two DHS secretaries, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, and former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden to debate for first time as front-runner John Kerry: Play based on Mueller report is 'an act of public service' Obama photographed alongside Clooney on boat in Italy MORE’s two DHS secretaries, Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson.

The group writes that DHS is “facing a real crisis in retaining” its workforce if the shutdown continues. DHS employees are among the approximately 800,000 federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay.

“We call on our elected leaders to restore the funding necessary to ensure our homeland remains safe and that the Department’s critical national security functions continue without compromise,” the secretaries write in the letter.

The letter, addressed to President Trump and Members of Congress, comes on the 33rd day of the shutdown, which was triggered by an impasse over billions of dollars in funding for Trump’s proposed U.S.–Mexico border wall.

Lawmakers have not yet reached a deal to reopen the government, as Trump has stood by his demands for $5.7 billion in wall funding. Democrats are pushing to reopen the government before negotiating on border security.

The Senate is scheduled on Thursday to consider two dueling plans to end the shutdown.