NNIRR Stands in Solidarity with Annunciation House and Denounces Texas’ Operation Lone Star

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2024

El Paso, Texas – NNIRR is outraged at the state of Texas’ attack on Annunciation House (Casa Anunciación) for exercising its humanitarian mission to provide shelter and support services to vulnerable migrants.

Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit in El Paso, Texas, has provided shelter and other services to migrants since 1978. In implementing Texas’ “Operation Lone Star”, Texas Attorney General Paxton seeks to revoke Annunciation House’s ability to operate in the state, an attempt to criminalize the organization’s right and moral obligation to save lives.

Annunciation House has resisted state government demands to turn over intake and other documents that reveal the services that they provide to those seeking assistance and shelter. Court action is currently pending on the issue; Paxton is demanding that Annunciation House be closed.

NNIRR Executive Director Alma Maquitico stated, “We stand with Casa Anunciación. Migration is a human right and a natural condition of humankind. Casa Anunciación and other organizations that accept and assist people in highly vulnerable situations who are fleeing war, political, economic, and climate crises – over which they have no control – are adhering to their righteous mission and international human rights laws. We applaud their courage.” She continued, “Furthermore, we denounce the State of Texas’s anti-human rights policies and call for the end of Operation Lone Star and S.B. 4.”

S.B. 4 is a Texas law that effectively bans “sanctuary cities” in the state.

“It is unconscionable that Texas seeks to criminalize the humanitarian aid that Annunciation House has led with integrity for decades. Make no mistake, Texas Attorney General Paxton is attempting to sow fear among those who provide humanitarian support to migrants. But our communities are stronger and will not be intimidated by mean-spirited politicians who demonize migrants seeking safety from harm. We will continue to advocate for practices and policies that are grounded in human rights principles,” stated Pedro Rios, director of American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program.

“Governor Abbott continues to increase the violence against migrants at the border. This attempt to completely disallow, and potentially criminalize, our communities’ actions to save lives; to respond to the impacts of anti-immigrant policies; and to express our 1st Amendment rights is clearly unconstitutional,” said Isabel Garcia, co-chair of Arizona’s Coalición de Derechos Humanos. “The Arizona State Senate just yesterday approved a measure that attempts to resuscitate Arizona’s old SB 1070 that was ruled unconstitutional on the issue of states’ rights to enact or enforce federal law.”

Eduardo Canales, Director of the South Texas Human Rights Center in Falfurrias, Texas, commented, “Since its inception, Operation Lone Star has been a complete failure in its attempts to control or to deter irregular migration at the Mexico/Texas border. We see the consequences in increased migrant deaths.”

Operation Lone Star and SB4 are particularly dangerous for border communities that must live in heavily militarized zones, under constant surveillance and harassment. This racist and militarized environment has become especially dangerous to migrants passing through in search of safety and shelter.

Maquitico affirms, “We cannot stay silent and allow assaults on human rights and lives to continue. The human rights of border communities and people in migration must be defended and upheld. Receiving migrants with dignity is not a crime but a critical component of the legally protected right to seek asylum.”