Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, is going after a non-governmental organization for allegedly stoking the crisis at the United States’ southern border.

In a 65-page legal filing publicized Tuesday, Paxton’s office accused Annunciation House of facilitating unlawful entry into the U.S., harboring illegal aliens, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.

Annunciation House, which has operated several shelters in El Paso for years, describes itself on its website as a Catholic nonprofit intent on aiding illegal aliens “through hospitality, advocacy, and education.”

“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,” Paxton noted in the lawsuit’s press release.

“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,” he added.

The Consumer Protection Division (CPD) of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had already been looking into Annunciation House’s public records before the official legal battle kicked off.

Then, on February 7, the CPD demanded Annunciation House turn over in 24 hours a stash of additional information spanning from January 2022 until February of this year.

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

The group also sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent any further CPD action while the court deliberates a separate temporary injunction (TI) to extend the deadline.

The court accepted Annunciation House’s request for a TRO that same day and set a date to hear the separate TI request for February 22. However, with Annunciation House pushing to extend the TRO and postpone the hearing, the specifics are still being decided.

In response to Annunciation House’s push, the OAG filed the aforementioned counterclaim on February 16, asking the court to appoint a receiver to liquidate Annunciation House’s assets and revoke its authorization to do business in Texas.

The first hearing on OAG’s counterclaim is currently scheduled for February 28.

Judge Francisco X. Dominguez of the 205th Judicial District Court in El Paso County is overseeing both Annunciation House’s initial claim and the OAG’s counterclaim.

“The Attorney General’s illegal, immoral and anti-faith position to shut down Annunciation House is unfounded,” Annunciation House stated in anticipation of a February 23 press conference.

The group also contended that local hospitals, schools, and food banks should be held in violation for their work if Annunciation House is.

Texas Scorecard previously reported earlier this month on Paxton criticizing the Biden administration for a proposed border security measure that, among other provisions, sought to provide over $1 billion to NGOs like Annunciation House.

Luca Cacciatore

Luca H. Cacciatore is a journalist for Texas Scorecard. He is an American Moment inaugural fellow and former welder.