WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- The Homeland Security Department said Tuesday refugees who came to the United States after an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010 can stay another 18 months.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a release the temporary protected status extension will run from July 23 to Jan. 22, 2013. Protected status also was extended to cover any Haitian national who has lived in the United States continuously since Jan. 12.
Exempted is anyone who entered the country illegally, or who has been convicted of a felony, two or more misdemeanors or has been involved in a serious crime that endangers others.
"In the extended aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in Haiti, the United States has remained fully committed to upholding our responsibility to assist individuals affected by this tragedy by using tools available under the law," Napolitano said. "Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration's continuing efforts to support Haiti's recovery."
There are about 48,000 Haitians in the United States under the temporary protected status program, Voice of America reported.