Paxton attacks Catholic non-profit that ministers to immigrants


A crook any way you look

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking to shut down Annunciation House, an El Paso Catholic nonprofit organization that has provided shelter and other services to migrants and immigrants for decades.

“The chaos at the southern border has created an environment where (nongovernmental organizations), funded with taxpayer money from the Biden administration, facilitate astonishing horrors including human smuggling,” Paxton said in a statement Tuesday. “While the federal government perpetuates the lawlessness destroying this country, my office works day in and day out to hold these organizations responsible for worsening illegal immigration.”

Ruben Garcia, the founder and director of Annunciation House, denounced the attorney general’s action in a statement Tuesday night.

“The attorney general’s illegal, immoral and anti-faith position to shut down Annunciation House is unfounded,” Garcia said.

He had raised concerns last year that Texas’ crackdown on immigration could imperil the work of church-based groups on immigration.

“The church is at risk because the volunteers are asking themselves, ‘If I feed someone who’s unprocessed, if I give someone a blanket who’s unprocessed, if I help them get off the street, am I liable to be prosecuted for that?’” Garcia told a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators visiting El Paso in January 2023. “Shame on us, that on this day, this is even being brought up in the United States.”

On Tuesday, Garcia said his organization provides a vital service, and warned that other organizations could be at risk of actions by Paxton.

“Annunciation House has kept hundreds of thousands of refugees coming through our city off the streets and given them food. The work helps serve our local businesses, our city, and immigration officials to keep people off the streets and give them a shelter while they come through our community,” he said. “If the work that Annunciation House conducts is illegal, so too is the work of our local hospitals, schools, and food banks.”


According to court records, investigators with the Attorney General’s Office went to Annunciation House’s South El Paso office on Feb. 7 and served the agency with a request to examine records related to its operations.

Annunciation House’s received a temporary restraining order the next day from 205th District Court Judge Francisco Dominguez of El Paso that blocked the attorney general from enforcing the order for records.

“Annunciation House wishes to provide you the documents to which you are entitled under law. This will require study and work on our part, and unfortunately litigation as well because it is impossible to comply with your deadline, and we remain concerned about the legality of certain aspects of your request,” Jerome Wesevich, an attorney for Annunciation House, said in a Feb. 8 email to the Attorney General’s Office.

Paxton’s office on Tuesday filed a counter-claim against Annunciation House, seeking to overturn the temporary restraining order and to strip the nonprofit of its right to do business in Texas. The attorney general alleges Annunciation House is violating state law by refusing to turn over the requested records, and should be shut down.

The records sought by Paxton’s office include “documents sufficient to show all services that you provide to aliens, whether in the United States legally or illegally,” and “all documents provided to individual aliens as part of your intake process.”

Dominguez has scheduled a hearing for 1 p.m. Thursday on Annunciation House’s request for a temporary injunction, which is a stronger step than the temporary restraining order he issued earlier this month.

I’ve run out of adjectives strong enough to describe Ken Paxton, so I’ll just ask someone to explain to me, in small words, how this is not an infringement on Annunciation House’s religious freedom. This matter is in state court for now, but I think we can all see the bills that will be filed next session to explicitly outlaw, if not criminalize, what Annunciation House is doing. From there, it’s just a matter of time before it lands on SCOTUS’ doorstep.

One more thing:

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, an El Paso Democrat, issued a statement “sounding the alarm” to other NGOs and organizations helping migrants that Paxton’s suit is “clearly going to be a strategy for the MAGA extremists.” Escobar said she met with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland last week and asked that the Department of Justice investigate “what I believe are horrific civil rights violations.”

“If Mr. Paxton believes that Annunciation House merits investigation, he should apply that same standard to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has literally transported a similar population across state lines,” Escobar said, referencing Abbott’s strategy of busing migrants to Democratic-led cities.

Paxton’s lawsuit comes as some Republicans in Congress have sought to eliminate federal funding for NGOs helping migrants along the border. U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a San Antonio Republican, said he believed the request for more funding was a “big part” of what sank the bipartisan border bill that Senate Republicans blocked earlier this month.

“It’s very evident that the gravy train of money to NGOs is over. That well is dry,” Gonzales said at the time. “There is no appetite in both the House and the Senate to entertain any additional funding for these NGOs.”

You misspelled “Because we’re all Donald Trump’s bitches”, Rep. Gonzales. And he’s supposed to be one of the “moderate” ones.

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2 Responses to Paxton attacks Catholic non-profit that ministers to immigrants

  1. Rob H. says:

    One more thing regarding the ‘one more thing’ in this post that makes Rep. Gonzales’ remarks even more frustratingly irrelevant to what is happening.

    Annunciation House has never, in their 45+ year history taken any government money (state, local, or federal) to support the work they do. They work alongside government agencies–for instance working quite closely with CBP and ICE to receive migrants coming out of federal custody–but no taxpayer dollars. Everything Annunciation House has ever done is driven by individual volunteers (thousands of them) and donors. This isn’t just an attack on a single NGO, it is an attack on the community behind it–an attack that will make it much harder for the community to meet real humanitarian needs at the border.

  2. Pingback: El Paso rallies around Annunciation House | Off the Kuff

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