Texas Seeks To Clamp Down on Federally Funded Catholic Group Helping Migrants Cross Border and Seek Asylum

Texas’s attorney general accused the group, Annunciation House, of being duplicitous about its mission of ‘simply living the Good News of the Gospel,’ as it states on its website.

AP/Eric Gay
Migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico walk along large buoys being used as a floating border barrier on the Rio Grande, August 1, 2023, at Eagle Pass, Texas. AP/Eric Gay

The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, is pursuing a novel approach to his state’s migrant crisis. Mr. Paxton announced on Tuesday a lawsuit filed against a federally funded Catholic social welfare agency, Annunciation House, which has been facilitating the travel of illegal migrants across the U.S.-Texas border. The group has been providing food, shelter, and transportation to migrants, and also coaching migrants through the asylum process. 

In a press release, the attorney general’s office wrote that Annunciation had “engaged in legal violations such as facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling and operating a stash house.” 

A statement from Mr. Paxton added, “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.”  Annunciation House received $446,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2023. 

The attorney general added that “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.”

Mr. Paxton’s lawsuit, filed in the 205th Judicial District of Texas at El Paso County, elaborated that the attorney general was seeking to “revoke Annunciation House’s registration on the grounds that it has violated the law and failed to permit OAG to inspect,” and that the group must “forfeit its rights and privileges as a registered corporation.”

In the filing, Mr. Paxton accused the group of being duplicitous about its mission of “simply living the Good News of the Gospel,” as it states on its website.

The attorney general stated that the group “boasted that it houses ‘migrants who avoided Border Patrol when crossing the Rio Grande.’” Once the migrants arrive on U.S. soil, they “appear to be engaged in the business of human smuggling. According to its own in-Court admission, Annunciation House ‘contracts with a local company once or twice a week to transport migrants in passenger vans in groups of approximately 15.’”

The group also works to “assist aliens with asylum claims, and specifically instructs them on ‘what situations qualify for asylum and what records they could gather to establish their case.’”

The group is but one of the many organizations, including the American Red Cross, that have drawn ire from conservatives for their roles in the migrant crisis. Photos of migrant camps frequently feature tents and tarps emblazoned with the Red Cross logo, while migrant convoys have been frequently escorted by individuals affiliated with their organizations.  

A report in May by the Daily Caller found that the Red Cross had been providing migrants with maps and guides to help them illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The guides included the locations of hotels and clinics and tips on “self-care” and the use of contraceptives. 

Annunciation House defended its work as providing essential services to people in need. “If the work that Annunciation House conducts is illegal, so too is the work of our local hospitals, schools and food banks,” the organization said in a statement to a local El Paso outlet, KTSM. 

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

“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,” it said.

According to its website, the organization was founded in 1976 and operates a facility “some ten blocks from the US/Mexico border” from which it has “hosted over 500,000 migrants, refugees, and immigrants from 40 countries” in total.

The New York Sun

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