The Obama Administration has just announced that some 48,000 Haitian refugees who have been living in the United States in fear of being deported to their earthquake-shattered homeland will be able to stay and work legally in the country for another 18 months, until Jan. 22, 2013. That announcement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was no big surprise.

Indeed, the surprise has been that it took so long for the administration to make the announcement.

It would have been inhumane and unconscionable, to say the least, to force these refugees to return to their country where an estimated 250,000 people were killed by the January 2010 earthquake, many others suffered loss of limbs and hundreds of thousands still live in tents.

Our nation’s immigration policies have generally tended to be skewed against Haitians and favor “political” refugees, such as those fleeing oppressive Communism, as in Cuba. But it is part of our nature as Americans that we are compassionate, as well, and the respite granted to these Haitians who have sought succor among us is an indication that we can indeed be kind to others in distress.