MIAMI, May 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Homeland Security Department is extending so-called temporary protected status for Haitians, letting 48,000 migrants stay until 2013.
Haitian activists in Miami praised the step, which Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday.
"It's really good news for the community. We were all holding our breath and waiting," Marleine Bastien, a Haitian women's leader, told The Miami Herald.
Thousands of Haitians who fled after the January 2010 earthquake will now be eligible for TPS, previously granted only to those who arrived in the United States before the disaster.
"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," Napolitano said.
Bastien praised the extension but asked whether officials will now consider a family reunification program for Haitians, "like there is for Cubans."
Thousands of Haitians whose visa petitions already have been approved are waiting to enter.
Federal officials say the request is "under consideration."