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Published May 18, 2011

New York Times

Haitians who received a special U.S. immigration status after last year's earthquake will be allowed an additional year and a half to live and work in the United States while their country struggles to recover, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.

Before Tuesday's announcement, the special designation, called temporary protected status, had been available to Haitians who had lived continuously in the United States since Jan. 12, 2010, the date of the earthquake. Under the new extension, Haitians who arrived in the country as late as Jan. 12, 2011, and had lived here continuously since then, will be eligible to apply. The extension expires Jan. 22, 2013.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement that she was expanding and extending the program out of concern that Haitian immigrants' "personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti."

Homeland Security officials said they would continue to deport Haitians who had been convicted of violent crimes or were repeat offenders, and had also been ordered removed by an immigration judge.

About 48,000 Haitians living in the United States have secured temporary protected status since the earthquake, and an estimated 10,000 more would be eligible under the extension, officials said Tuesday, adding that application guidelines would be issued this week.