A bipartisan group of former top Republican and Democratic officials is backing the program to resettle Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States.

In a letter to all members of Congress, national security experts, retired military and others say the country must offer refuge to the world's most vulnerable, regardless of religion or nationality.

Among those signing the letter are former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Madeleine Albright. Retired Gen. David Petraeus also signed the letter, as did former Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Last month, the House voted overwhelmingly to erect high hurdles for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to come to the United States in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris.

The experts said they opposed the legislation, which is pending in the Senate.