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Judge issues ruling that protects a migrant shelter that Texas sought to close

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A Texas judge ruled against the state attorney general on Tuesday in his effort to shut down a migrant shelter in El Paso that he claimed encourages illegal migration.

Judge Francisco X. Dominguez in El Paso ruled that Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempts to enforce a subpoena for records of migrants served at the Annunciation House violated the constitutional rights of the shelter. His ruling prevents Paxton from seeking the records and protects the shelter from what Dominguez called “harassment and overreaching” by Paxton’s office.

Texas is expected to appeal.

Dominguez wrote that Paxton did not identify what laws he believed were being violated in seeking the documents.

“The record before this Court makes clear that the Texas Attorney General’s use of the request to examine documents from Annunciation House was a pretext to justify its harassment of Annunciation House employees and the persons seeking refuge,” he wrote.

State officials visited Annunciation House in early February demanding immediate access to records — including medical and immigration documents — of migrants who had received services at the shelter since 2022. Officials from Annunciation House, which oversees a network of shelters, said they were willing to comply but needed time to determine what they could legally share without violating their clients’ constitutional rights.

Paxton alleged that that by providing shelter to migrants regardless of their legal status, Annunciation House was facilitating illegal immigration, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.

Investigators who sought to access records the day after requesting entry were not allowed inside the shelter. Jerry Wesevich, the attorney representing Annunciation House, said that corporations under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

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