Annunciation House has its hearing

Seems like it might have gone well for them.

An El Paso district judge lashed out at the Texas Attorney General’s Office after a lawyer said in court Thursday that Annunciation House was “stonewalling” by refusing to negotiate over documents demanded by the office.

“Hold on. This is the part where you’re starting to offend my intelligence. You did not offer to negotiate. You did not offer to act in good faith,” 205th District Court Judge Francisco Dominguez told Ryan Baasch, chief of the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division, at a hearing on Annunciation House’s request to hold off producing some documents until a judge could review whether they were legally obligated to do so

Dominguez said Annunciation House has shown a willingness to negotiate with the Attorney General’s Office, which has said it will close the nonprofit that offers humanitarian services to migrants.

“There was no attempt whatsoever to negotiate by the attorney general, which is what gives the court rise for concern that there are ulterior political motives here taking place that go outside of what the law requires, go outside of what the law demands,” he said.

Dominguez, a Democrat and former civil rights attorney, did not immediately rule after a two-hour hearing on Annunciation House’s request for an injunction or other action to allow for a court review of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s demand for records and the immediate termination of Annunciation House’s ability to operate in Texas for failing to immediately produce the records.

A ruling likely will come in the next few days.


Three representatives from the Attorney General’s Office on Feb. 7 served Annunciation House with a request to immediately examine operational records, but agreed to give the agency a day to consult with attorneys. The next day, Dominguez granted Annunciation House’s request for a temporary restraining order against the attorney general.

Annunciation House is seeking a temporary injunction that would stay in effect until Dominguez ruled on its legal obligations in regards to the attorney general’s request.

Jerome Wesevich, the attorney for Annunciation House, told the court that the agency has turned over 212 pages of records so far to the Attorney General’s Office. He said the request was “an abuse of power to try to stop Annunciation House from doing business.”

See here and here for some background. We have not yet gotten a ruling, and I am fervently hoping that it will be an absolutely stinging rebuke of Paxton. I have a hard time expressing how much this outrages me, and I say that as someone who consumes way too much news about Ken Paxton. I grew up Catholic, I haven’t practiced it in decades but it has shaped me, culturally and morally, and I have always admired the Catholic dogma of service and doing good works as a critical part of expressing your faith. I mean, Jesus was pretty clear about that kind of thing in the gospels, and yet so many of his alleged followers live their lives in ways that (to me, at least) do as little as possible to emulate what he taught. And in our current world, that very much includes a cadre of Catholics, as this earlier story makes clear.

For the past few years, right-wing advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers have targeted non-governmental organizations that shelter migrants, many of them asylum seekers, blaming them for incentivizing illegal immigration with taxpayer money.

Those efforts come as religious figures, emboldened by the rise of Christian nationalism, continue to demonize migrants and those who aid them as part of a broader scheme to dilute the American electorate. On Sunday, Ed Young, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the longtime pastor of Houston’s massive Second Baptist Church, gave a lengthy sermon in which he reportedly called migrants “garbage” and “undesirables” who are being brought in to support a “progressive, Godless” dictatorship.

“We will not be able to stand under all the garbage and raff in which we’re now inviting to come into our shores,” said Young, whose church has been attended for years by prominent state Republicans. “And they’re already here.”

Far-right Catholics have also mobilized against organizations such as Catholic Charities, calling it the “enemy of the people” and blasting it for assisting migrants — many of whom are also Catholic, but conflict with the ethno-nationalism that experts say is highly correlated with white Christian nationalist beliefs.

Last year, right-wing Catholics launched a campaign to defund bishops who aid migrants at the border; and in an interview with the group Church Militant, self-professed Christian nationalist and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, said Catholic Charities’ work was proof of “Satan controlling the church.”

And some Texas politicians have targeted faith-based groups like Annunciation House — which has been in operation for nearly 50 years — with accusations that such shelters encourage, and profit from, illegal immigration.

When I was a student at Sacred Heart Elementary School back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, one of the hymns we’d sing included the refrain “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love/And they’ll know we are Christians by our love”. I don’t know what distinguishes these people as “Christians”, but it sure ain’t love. If you want an example of what that should look like, read this guest opinion piece at the National Catholic Reporter. As I said, I haven’t practiced Catholicism in a long time – and believe me, there are many good reasons why – but I’m firmly with the actual Catholics here. They need to win this fight.

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2 Responses to Annunciation House has its hearing

  1. J says:

    The Republican strategy for this election is well captured by this recent cartoon. Ed Young’s behavior is inexcusable. He and the rest of today’s Republicans need to look in the mirror to see the real garbage and riffraff.

  2. Pingback: Judge puts brakes on Paxton’s attack against Annunciation House | Off the Kuff

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