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EDITORIAL: Visa program would help Haitians and Haiti

Washington should help Haitians help themselves. With that island nation still reeling from a devastating January earthquake, 55,000 Haitians already approved for immigrant visas should be allowed to quickly come to the United States, where they can work and send money home. Right now they're in limbo.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already approved their visa petitions, but they have to wait in Haiti for the visas to be issued - a delay that could last from four to 11 years. The bottleneck is due to quotas that limit the number of Haitians allowed to immigrate annually to the United States. Only 14,060 were admitted last year. Quotas exist for other nations, too, but the delay is unconscionable for Haitians.

The 55,000 all have relatives, legally in the United States, who have pledged to support the newcomers financially. Once here, they can work and send money back to Haiti, augmenting a critical source of support for people on the island.

Since 2007 there has been a family reunification parole program for Cubans that allows those with approved petitions to come to the United States and wait here for visas. Haitians should get the same deal, so more can be a part of the solution for their ravaged homeland. hN