A state judge in El Paso ruled that a non-governmental organization accused of harboring illegal aliens does not have to immediately turn over internal documents to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

In his order, District Judge Francisco Dominguez ordered that Annunciation House—a Catholic nonprofit operating several illegal alien shelters within El Paso—will not have to turn over internal documents that Paxton’s office asked for last month. 

Dominguez, a Democrat first elected to the bench in 2014, also calls into question Paxton’s motivations behind demanding the information. 

“The Attorney General’s efforts to run roughshod over Annunciation House, without regard to due process or fair play, call into question the true motivation for the Attorney General’s attempt to prevent Annunciation House from providing the humanitarian and social services that it provides,” wrote Dominguez. “There is a real and credible concern that the attempt to prevent Annunciation House from conducting business in Texas was predetermined.”

At the same time, Dominguez also denied the Annunciation House’s motion to issue a temporary restraining order or to quash Paxton’s request for the documents. 

“Both the Attorney General and Annunciation House are now obliged to litigate this matter within the guidelines set forth by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, created to ensure fair play between litigants. Thus, Annunciation House’s motion to quash the RTE is also moot because the Attorney General’s administrative subpoena (the RTE) is superseded by the discovery rules under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.”

Dominguez stated in his order that he will schedule a separate hearing for motions brought forth by Paxton’s office. 

Paxton’s legal battle with the Annunciation House began February 7, when the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General demanded that the illegal alien shelter turn over, in 24 hours, a stash of additional information spanning from January 2022 until February of this year.

One day later, the Annunciation House filed a petition seeking a declaratory judgment on whether the CPD request violates the nonprofit’s constitutional rights. 

On February 22, Paxton’s office decided to sue the Annunciation House, accusing the organization of facilitating unlawful entry into the U.S., harboring illegal aliens, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.

Texas Scorecard reached out to Paxton’s office for comment on the ongoing litigation but did not receive a response by publication. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.