Awareness - February 22, 2024 - We Welcome

Awareness - February 22, 2024

State of Texas seeks to shutdown nonprofit immigration organization 

On Tuesday, Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton brought legal action against Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit organization that provides housing and assistance to migrants in El Paso. The lawsuit accuses the organization of "alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house" and comes after staff denied immediate access to their records after investigators served them with a request on February 7, demanding that they be turned over to them the following day. The organization received a temporary restraining order while they discerned which records they were required by law to release. The suit filed by the Attorney General’s office seeks to overturn the restraining order and stop Annunciation House from continuing to operate as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Texas. 

Ruben Garcia, founder and director of Annunciation House, raised concerns about Texas’ immigration legislation during a visit to El Paso by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators in January 2023. “The church is at risk because the volunteers are asking themselves, ‘If I feed someone who’s unprocessed, if I give someone a blanket who’s unprocessed, if I help them get off the street, am I liable to be prosecuted for that? Shame on us, that on this day, this is even being brought up in the United States.”

Bipartisan group of Representatives introduces new foreign aid and border proposal

After House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed doubt that a foreign aid package passed by the Senate would be brought to a vote in the House, a bipartisan group of Representatives introduced legislation that includes changes to border policies and the U.S. asylum process. The bill would require immigration officers to suspend the entry of migrants encountered at the southern border and deemed inadmissible, require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to return migrants who arrive over land from a contiguous country back to that country, and provide the DHS Secretary the authority to suspend the entry of inadmissible migrants in a manner similar to the Title 42 health authority implemented during the COVID pandemic.

Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, expressed concern over the policy changes included in the proposal. “House negotiators would be better served by revisiting border and immigration provisions in the recent Senate bill, which included much-needed funding for border security, communities that are receiving migrants, and the asylum process — bipartisan priorities the new House proposal does not address. The Senate bill sought to modernize the asylum system while also providing solutions for Afghan allies, ‘documented Dreamers,’ and American workforce needs,” she said in a statement.