The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on U.S. President George Bush to allow citizens of disaster-stricken Haiti to remain temporarily in the United States.
In a letter made public this week, the Catholic organization said Haiti qualifies for what is known as temporary protected status, or TPS.
Haitians who apply for and receive this designation would be allowed to continue to live and work in the United States for a period of time, regardless of their previous immigration status.
The letter notes the humanitarian challenges facing Haiti following a food crisis and a series of storms that hit the country over the past few months. It says these events have left Haiti in a situation that is as bad as, or worse than, other countries that have been given TPS designation, such as El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Protected status can be given to citizens of certain countries affected by extraordinary conditions, such as natural disasters or armed conflict, but it does not lead to permanent residency.