Texas AG Ken Paxton Sues El Paso Nonprofit for Alleged ‘Efforts to Facilitate Illegal Immigration’

The attorney general filed the lawsuit after the Catholic organization ’refused' to release documentation about the clients it serves.
Texas AG Ken Paxton Sues El Paso Nonprofit for Alleged ‘Efforts to Facilitate Illegal Immigration’
Illegal immigrants wait next to razor wire after crossing the Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 1, 2024. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Jana J. Pruet

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit to shut down operations of a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in El Paso that provides housing and other services for illegal immigrants.

Earlier this month, the Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office opened an investigation into the Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit in El Paso, after reviewing public records that indicated possible legal violations, including “facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house,” according to the lawsuit.
“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,” Mr. Paxton said in a Feb. 20 statement. “While the federal government perpetuates the lawlessness destroying this country, my office works day in and day out to hold these organizations responsible.”

On Feb. 7, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) requested documentation from Annunciation House to examine its operations and the clients it serves. It was allowed one day to turn over the requested documentation.

The attorney general’s “demand for ‘immediate access’ was not made in a vacuum,” the court document reads.

“Rather, OAG agents were monitoring Annunciation House during the period leading up to the Request to Examine.

“Those observations showed that Annunciation House operates in an unusually covert way, raising concerns about how truthful it would be in a document production.”

Annunciation House declined The Epoch Times’ request for comment on the lawsuit.

The NGO asked the state for a 30-day extension to turn over documents, which the state denied. The organization then filed a lawsuit against the attorney general, requesting a temporary restraining order to delay the attorney general’s request.

“Annunciation House asked a Court to decide what documents the law permits the Attorney General to access,” the nonprofit wrote in a Feb. 21 statement on its website. “There is nothing illegal about asking a Court to decide a person’s rights.”
Annunciation House also stated that it has “provided hospitality to hundreds of thousands of refugees” since it began its operations in the 1970s.

Failure to Comply

Under Texas law, organizations failing to comply with an investigative request by the attorney general’s office forfeit the right to do business in the state, according to the lawsuit.

Therefore, the OAG has asked the court for “permanent injunctive relief prohibiting Annunciation House from transacting any business in Texas.”

“The AG has now made explicit that its real goal is not records but to shut down the organization,” Annunciation House said in the statement. “It has stated that it considers it a crime for a catholic organization to provide shelter to refugees.”

The organization went on to say that its work is “recognized by the Catholic Church” and that Mr. Paxton’s “position to shut down Annunciation House is unfounded.”

“Annunciation House’s response to the stranger is no different from that of the schools who enroll children of refugees, the clinics and the hospitals who care for the needs of refugees, and the churches, synagogues and mosques who welcome families to join in worship,” the statement reads.

The organization also stated that it has kept “hundreds of thousands of refugees” passing through El Paso “off the streets.”

“If the work that Annunciation House conducts is illegal—so too is the work of our local hospitals, schools, and food banks,” it stated.

The organization stated that it would offer more information during a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. MST on Feb. 23.

Jana J. Pruet is an award-winning investigative journalist. She covers news in Texas with a focus on politics, energy, and crime. She has reported for many media outlets over the years, including Reuters, The Dallas Morning News, and TheBlaze, among others. She has a journalism degree from Southern Methodist University. Send your story ideas to: [email protected]
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