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Texas Attorney General sues El Paso’s Annunciation House for ‘efforts to facilitate illegal immigration’

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday a lawsuit against Annunciation House, the nongovernmental organization that has managed a network of shelters for migrants in El Paso for decades.

"The Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) reviewed significant public record information strongly suggesting Annunciation House is engaged in legal violations such as facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house," the OAG stated in a news release Tuesday.

ABC-7 is reaching out to Annunciation House for comment. We have not yet heard back.

"OAG demanded access to certain specified records to evaluate these potential legal violations," the OAG went on to explain. "But Annunciation House refused to produce a single document and, in response, sued the OAG to enjoin the Attorney General’s enforcement ability to obtain their documents. OAG has complete and unlimited authority to examine business records to ensure that entities operating within the State are doing so lawfully. And the consequence of a flagrant failure to comply with such a request is that OAG may terminate the business’s right to operate in Texas. The OAG lawsuit seeks to revoke Annunciation House’s authorization to do business in Texas and asks the court to appoint a receiver to liquidate their assets."

The OAG says Paxton is looking to revoke Annunciation House's authorization to do business in Texas.

“The chaos at the southern border has created an environment where NGOs, funded with taxpayer money from the Biden Administration, facilitate astonishing horrors including human smuggling,” said Attorney General Paxton. “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.”

On Tuesday night, Annunciation House released this statement:

"The Attorney General came to Annunciation House on February 7, 2024 stating that the organization had one day to turn over a broad swath of records to the Attorney General without an explanation. Annunciation House asked a Court to decide what documents the law permits the Attorney General to access. There is nothing illegal about asking a Court to decide a person’s rights.

The AG has now made explicit that its real goal is not records but to shut down the organization. It has stated that it considers it a crime for a Catholic organization to provide shelter to refugees.

The Attorney General’s illegal, immoral and anti-faith position to shut down Annunciation House is unfounded. Annunciation House has provided hospitality to hundreds of thousands of refugees for over forty-six years. It is a work recognized by the Catholic Church and is listed in the National Catholic Directory. Annunciation House has done this work of accompaniment out of the scriptural and Gospel mandate to welcome the stranger. Annunciation House’s response to the stranger is no different from that of the schools who enroll children of refugees, the clinics and hospitals who care for the needs of refugees, and the churches, synagogues, and mosques who welcome families to join in worship.

Annunciation House’s work is central to the City of El Paso. El Paso has made it a point of pride to provide humane support for people coming through our community in need. 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.

If the work that Annunciation House conducts is illegal – so too is the work of our local hospitals, schools, and food banks.

Annunciation House will hold a news conference to address its position in response to the Texas Attorney General’s unprecedented assault."

Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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Jesus A. Rodriguez

KVIA ABC-7 News executive producer


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