Catholic Migrant Shelter Accused of Being a ‘Stash House’ by Ken Paxton

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In a surprising turn of events, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has initiated legal action against the El Paso Catholic Charity, Annunciation House, accusing it of operating as an “illegal stash house” and facilitating human smuggling. This move is part of a broader campaign against organizations aiding migrants along the Texas border.

For nearly 50 years, Annunciation House has been a crucial support system for poor and homeless migrants in El Paso, offering services such as food, shelter, and assistance. However, Paxton claims that the charity is involved in illegal activities, allowing its premises to be used for human smuggling.

Paxton’s office has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Texas against Annunciation House, seeking to revoke its authorization to operate in the state and calling for the appointment of a receiver to liquidate its assets. The attorney general argues that the chaotic situation at the southern border has created an environment where NGOs, including Annunciation House, allegedly facilitate human smuggling.

In his statement, Paxton refers to taxpayer money from the Biden Administration allegedly funding these NGOs. Contrary to this claim, Annunciation House asserts that it has no permanent funding sources and has never accepted government funding. This raises questions about the accuracy of the attorney general’s assertions and the potential motivations behind targeting the Catholic charity.

In response to the legal action, Annunciation House released a press statement vehemently denying the allegations. The charity defends its work as being rooted in the scriptural and Gospel mandate to welcome the stranger. Additionally, Annunciation House points to its recognition by the Catholic Church and its listing in the National Catholic Directory as evidence of the legitimacy of its mission.

Annunciation House draws parallels between its work and that of essential services such as hospitals, schools, and food banks. The implication is that if the charity’s actions are deemed illegal, the same logic could be applied to other institutions providing vital support to the community.

Catholic Migrant Shelter is a "Stash House" Ken Paxton Says

El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar has criticized Paxton’s actions as “outrageous,” suggesting that the attorney general is targeting Catholic and faith-based organizations dealing with suspected undocumented individuals.

Escobar raises concerns about a potentially racist and xenophobic agenda and calls for a consistent application of investigative standards, urging Paxton to scrutinize similar actions by other officials, including Governor Greg Abbott.

Amidst this legal battle, Annunciation House has secured a temporary restraining order against Paxton’s demand for records. A hearing for a permanent injunction is scheduled, and the charity plans to address the public in a news conference on Friday.

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This legal saga raises questions about the broader implications for charitable organizations involved in assisting migrants and prompts a conversation about the potential targeting of faith-based organizations and the role of governmental authorities in addressing the challenges at the southern border.

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