Pope Francis
The pope criticized Texas authorities for seeking to shut down a Catholic charity that helps undocumented migrants AFP

Pope Francis criticized Texas officials' efforts to shut down Annunciation House, a Catholic charity that helps undocumented migrants seeking to reach the United States, in the state.

"That is madness, sheer madness to close the border and leave them there. That is madness. The migrant has to be received. Thereafter, you see how you're going to deal with them. Maybe after you send them back, I don't know. But each case ought to be considered humanely, right?" Pope Francis said in an interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes.

Texas' efforts to this end began in February and are part of a wider crackdown seeking to drastically reduce the amount of migrants reaching its territory.

Back then, Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the organization saying it has encouraged illegal entry into the U.S. and in practice operates as a stash house.

In a release from February, he said his office had reviewed "significant public record information strongly suggesting Annunciation House is engaged in legal violations such as facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling and operating a stash house."

Paxton added that his office had demanded access to records from the organization to evaluate the "potential legal violations," but that Annunciation House "refused to produce a single document and, in response, sued the OAG to enjoin the Attorney General's enforcement ability to obtain their documents."

"And the consequence of a flagrant failure to comply with such a request is that OAG may terminate the business's right to operate in Texas. The OAG lawsuit seeks to revoke Annunciation House's authorization to do business in Texas and asks the court to appoint a receiver to liquidate their assets," the news release added.

According to its website, Annunciation House is a "volunteer organization that offers hospitality to migrants, immigrants, and refugees in El Paso." It disputed Paxton's lawsuit, saying that if their work is illegal, "so too is the work of our local hospitals, schools and food banks."

"Annunciation House's work is central to the City of El Paso," Annunciation House said in its statement about the lawsuit. "El Paso has made a point of pride to provide humane support for people coming through our community in need."

Regarding Paxton's request for documents, the organization said his office showed up one day "stating the organization had one day to turn over a broad swath of records to the attorney general without an explanation."

Annunciation House said it asked a court to decide what documents the law permits the attorney general to access. "There nothing illegal about asking a court to a decide a person's rights," it added.

According to Border Report, elected leaders around El Paso and Catholic Church leaders around the country have rallied to defend Annunciation House's work since the suit began.

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