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Paxton’s Crusade Against Catholic Migrant Shelter Backfires 

An El Paso judge has rejected Attorney General Ken Paxton’s efforts to shut down a Catholic migrant shelter, calling his accusation “harassment and overreaching.”

Paxton attempted to shut down the Annunciation House, a migrant shelter network, claiming it was facilitating illegal border crossings and that it was running a “stash house.”

State district Judge Francisco Dominguez ruled on Tuesday that Paxton’s office failed to provide evidence that the shelter was violating the law and that its claims “even if accepted as true, does not establish a violation of those provisions.”

Catholic leaders claimed Paxton’s attempts to close the shelter affected their religious liberties, as the Gospel commands them to help the poor.

In his ruling, Dominguez stated that indeed Paxton’s claim “violates the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act by substantially burdening Annunciation House’s free exercise of religion and failing to use the ‘least restrictive means’ of securing compliance with the law.”

“The court agreed with us on all of the points that we made. All we can say at this point is that we hope that the Attorney General will see and respect the bounds that the court described on his power,” said Jerome Wesevich, the Annunciation House attorney. “There is no legal basis for closing a nonprofit that provides social services to refugees. Period.”

Since Paxton’s office announced he would be seeking to shut down the shelter, many Catholic leaders criticized his actions, even drawing the attention of Pope Francis, who said the AG’s attempts to shut down the shelter were “sheer madness.”

Paxton’s office has not issued a response or a statement after the ruling. The AG has 30 days to file an appeal.

“I haven’t had any communications with them about today’s ruling,” Wesevich said. “Obviously, they’re studying [the ruling] as well, and they’ll decide whether they have any grounds to appeal. If they do, we’ll proceed and oppose the appeal. That’s the orderly process established by law. We’ll always be willing to pursue that.”

The Annunciation House has been operating for nearly 50 years and it helps “migrant, refugee, and economically vulnerable peoples of the border region through hospitality, advocacy, and education.”

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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