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Catholic immigration charity gets sued after being accused of smuggling

by Reuters Journalist

The attorney general of Texas on Tuesday sued a Catholic charity that provides housing and assistance to migrants, accusing the group of "alien harbouring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house."

Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a written statement that the legal action was intended to revoke the license of Annunciation House to operate in Texas as a non-governmental organization, or NGO.

"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 said.

"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," said the Republican attorney general.

Annunciation House said that Paxton's goal in filing the lawsuit, which came after it denied him immediate access to its records, was to use the document dispute as an excuse to shut down the nonprofit.

"The attorney general's illegal, immoral and anti-faith position to shut down Annunciation House is unfounded," the group said in a written statement. Paxton filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in El Paso County District Court.

Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, a similar organization, said that he supported Annunciation House.

"The actions of the Texas Attorney General are intended to intimidate and criminalize humanitarian aid workers and are an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the commandment to love one’s neighbor," Corbett said on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

Paxton said in the lawsuit that Annunciation House and publicly claimed to house some 300 migrants at a time who they knew were avoiding detection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

The attorney general said the nonprofit was engaging in human smuggling by transporting migrants in vans and placing them in so-called stash houses.

Texas is building a military base camp in the city of Eagle Pass near the U.S.-Mexico border, part of a broader effort by the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott to deter illegal immigration.

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