Austin/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 10, 2024
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Seeks to Halt El Paso's Annunciation House for Alleged Immigrant SmugglingSource: Texas Attorney General's Office

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is on the offensive against a Catholic charity, Annunciation House, which has provided shelter to refugees and undocumented migrants for nearly half a century. In a move that escalates ongoing legal tensions, Paxton filed for an injunction, asserting the nonprofit is partaking in "systemic criminal conduct" by allegedly aiding illegal border crossings and harboring undocumented immigrants. According to the National Catholic Register, Paxton claimed Annunciation House “knowingly shelters illegal aliens” and accuses the group of even crossing into Mexico to "retrieve aliens who[m] border patrol denied."

The El Paso-based Annunciation House has been a sanctuary for those in need, offering food, shelter, and support. Despite the state's claim, legal advocates argue the organization is simply fulfilling its humanitarian mission. Jerry Wesevich, a Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid attorney, emphasized to KXAN that Annunciation House's work is paramount to the wellbeing of refugee families, and charges of smuggling or operating a "stash house" are unfounded. "All (Annunciation) does is provide a place to sleep and food to families in need," he stated.

This legal attack follows a directive issued by Governor Greg Abbott in 2022, where he tasked the Attorney General's Office to scrutinize NGOs for potential involvement in the illegal transportation of illegal immigrants across our borders. Paxton's campaign against the charity first hit the courts earlier this year when he filed a lawsuit to revoke its nonprofit status, a push the District Court of El Paso County resisted in March for its unjust disregard for due process.

Undeterred, Paxton continues to argue that with the group's alleged concealment of undocumented migrants from the authorities, Annunciation House has "forfeited its right to do business in this state," per Nation Catholic Register. Echoing this sentiment, the AG stated, "Any non-governmental organization (NGO) facilitating the unlawful entry of illegal aliens into Texas is undermining the rule of law and potentially jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of our citizenss." These comments were captured in a press release on his website and serve to underscore the state's stance on immigration and NGO involvement.

Meanwhile, Annunciation House strongly opposes the allegations, rejecting any claims of illegal behavior. They maintain their efforts are grounded in faith and compassion, extending help to those most in need. In a pushback against the attorney general's office earlier this year, the organization labeled Paxton's tactics as "illegal, immoral, and anti-faith," further defending their operations as no different from the service offered by local community institutions such as hospitals, schools, and food banks, as reported by KXAN.