Texas AG sues a nonprofit that helps migrants, accusing it of ‘alien harboring.’ But the group calls the lawsuit ‘unfounded’

Texas AG sues a nonprofit that helps migrants, accusing it of ‘alien harboring.’ But the group calls the lawsuit ‘unfounded’ - Crime and Courts - News

Texas Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Catholic Nonprofit Assisting Migrants

The Texas Republican Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has filed a lawsuit against Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit organization in El Paso, alleging that the group has been involved in “alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house,” according to a news release from Paxton’s office.

Effort to Revoke Nonprofit Registration

The attorney general is seeking to revoke the registration of Annunciation House based on information “strongly suggesting” that the organization has violated the law and failed to comply with a Request to Examine from his office, according to a court filing in the district court of El Paso.

Request for Records and Temporary Restraining Order

The lawsuit comes after Annunciation House filed a lawsuit to obtain a temporary restraining order against the state, preventing them from demanding the immediate disclosure of the organization’s records.

Attorney General’s Visit and Demand for Records

According to Annunciation House, a representative from the attorney general’s office visited the organization on February 7 and demanded that they turn over a broad range of records within one day without explanation. The nonprofit sought a court decision to determine which documents the law permits the attorney general to access.

Ongoing Feud Between Texas Political Leaders and Federal Government

Paxton’s lawsuit against Annunciation House is viewed as an escalation in the ongoing feud between Texas’ Republican political leaders and the federal government over the handling of the migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border.

Role of Religious Shelters in Managing the Migrant Crisis

The state’s lawsuit against a religious-based shelter that has long been credited with helping border and immigration authorities manage the migrant crisis is concerning for some advocates, as they believe this could set a precedent for other faith-based organizations.

Allegations of Violating Laws and Human Smuggling

The attorney general’s lawsuit alleges that Annunciation House has been openly and flagrantly violating many provisions of law in a systemic fashion. It also accuses the organization of engaging in human smuggling by contracting with a local company to transport migrants.

Impact on El Paso Community

Annunciation House has stated that its work is beneficial to the city of El Paso by helping keep refugees coming through the city off the streets and providing them with food. El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser also supports the organization, stating that humanitarian groups play a critical role in the community.

Reactions from the Catholic Community and Human Rights Advocates

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso has also spoken out in support of Annunciation House, stating that this is not about politics but human dignity and the lives of refugees.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the American Immigration Council, has expressed concern that this lawsuit should send a shiver down the spine of every faith-based nonprofit in the state.

Context: Migrant Crisis and Operation Lone Star

Since 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has dispatched thousands of state troopers and National Guard soldiers to border communities as part of Operation Lone Star, with the stated goal of doing the job the federal government is failing to do. The White House has also been considering executive action to restrict migrants’ ability to seek asylum at the US-Mexico border if they crossed illegally.

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