The Trump administration has decided to end a programme which allows roughly 57,000 Hondurans to live and work in the US, according to a statement from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The temporary protected status (TPS) provides protections for people unable to return to their homes out of safety concerns, usually stemming from national disasters or wars.
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TPS was given to the Hondurans after Hurricane Mitch tore through their country in 1998.
DHS announced the end of the programme on Friday, giving Honduran immigrants 18 months to leave the US to “allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates” on January 5, 2020.
TPS status for roughly 6,900 Syrians was previously extended, though the administration has said it will not take new applications.
To maintain TPS status, immigrants must undergo a background check each year, which they pay for, and fill out renewal forms, among other measures.
President Donald Trump ran on a campaign platform of reducing immigration during the 2016 presidential election.
A popular slogan at his campaign rallies was “Build the wall”, which referred to a barrier on the US-Mexico border to discourage immigration.
Since assuming office in January 2017, the Trump administration has adopted a tough approach to immigration, increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants inside the US.
Democrats have adopted a pro-immigrant stance in response to Trump’s crackdown.
“This does nothing to make America any stronger, safer, or more respected,” Mike Johnston, a Democratic candidate for governor in Colorado, said in a tweet.
Rights groups have also decried the decision, pointing to safety concerns. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the Americas due to gang violence.
Doctors Without Borders USA said the decision would force “people to leave their homes and return to a country where many face extreme danger”.
Trump has not released a statement on the decision, but he tweeted on Friday that the US border was “under siege” and that Congress must pass laws to strengthen immigration regulations.
Our Southern Border is under siege. Congress must act now to change our weak and ineffective immigration laws. Must build a Wall. Mexico, which has a massive crime problem, is doing little to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2018