The Trump administration has announced the end of temporary protections for thousands of Honduran immigrants.
Up to 57,000 people could be forced to leave the US by 5 January 2020, when their temporary protected status (TPS) will be revoked, says a BBC report.
Hondurans were granted this status after Hurricane Mitch hit the Central American country in 1999.
The Department of Homeland Security said conditions in the country had ‘notably improved’ since the disaster.
The 2020 deadline gives time for people with TPS ‘to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration,’ the statement reads.
Honduras’s government said it ‘profoundly regrets’ the end of the programme.
The country’s ambassador to the US, Marlon Tabora, said the country could not handle repatriating tens of thousands of people, Reuters news agency reports.
“These families have lived in the United States for 20 years and re-integrating them into the country will not be easy if they decide to return,” he said.
The Trump administration previously announced plans to cancel TPS for immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador, which they had been given after natural disasters in those countries.
Critics believe the US government is ignoring continuing dangers in home countries in its decisions to cancel TPS.
But some argue the repeated extension of the programme has resulted in de facto residency rights for those who benefit.
A legal group in Boston, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, said they would amend a legal complaint about the recent cancellation of TPS status to include the Hondurans.
A large number of migrants recently arrived at the US border, including many Hondurans.
The disputed election of President Juan Orland Hernández in November has caused recent unrest in the country which has led many to flee.