A Misuse of Religious Freedom at the Border

A Catholic charity that serves migrants cannot invoke religious freedom to avoid complying with a legitimate inquiry by the attorney general of Texas.

U.S. Catholics who are caring for immigrants at the Texas border being attacked for their faith? If not, what’s behind the effort by Texas’s Attorney General Ken Paxton to shut down Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit that has been caring for immigrants and asylum-seekers since the 1980s?

In the early part of February, Paxton’s office demanded that Annunciation House, a nonprofit registered to operate in Texas, turn over certain records. Annunciation House refused, obtained a temporary restraining order, and applied for a temporary injunction. It claimed that immediate compliance with Paxton’s request would be nearly impossible; that Paxton’s request to produce all logs “identifying aliens to whom you have provided services in the relevant time period” violated the right to association as guaranteed by the First Amendment; and that Paxton had threatened “imminent injury” to Annunciation House unless it complied with the request to examine documents within one day, including revoking the group’s “right to continue performing its religious mission and serve persons who it chooses.”

Paxton filed a counter-claim demanding, among other things, that Annunciation House forfeit its rights and privileges as a registered entity in Texas and that a receiver be appointed to “wind up Annunciation House’s affairs.” He alleged that Annunciation House was guilty of “openly and flagrantly violating many provisions of law in a systemic fashion,” and he accused Annunciation House of “alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house” — charges the nonprofit furiously denies.

Continue reading at the National Review

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