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Judge blocks Texas AG's effort to obtain records from migrant shelter on US-Mexico border

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge on Monday ruled in favor of a large migrant shelter on the U.S.-Mexico border that is seeking to shield records from Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is seeking to shut down the facility over claims it encourages migrants to enter the country illegally.

The order by Judge Francisco X. Dominguez of El Paso keeps Annunciation House — which for decades has been one of Texas’ largest border shelters for migrants — from having to immediately turn over internal documents that Paxton’s office demanded last month.

Dominguez criticized Paxton and accused him of running “roughshod” over the shelter “without regard to due process or fair play.”

Paxton's office did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Aid groups have given critical support to new arrivals, eliciting criticism from some quarters.

State officials visited Annunciation House in early February demanding immediate access to review records — including medical and immigration documents — of migrants who 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 the constitutional rights of their clients.

About 500 migrants currently are spread over Annunciation House sites, an uptick in their numbers, said Ruben Garcia, the shelter's executive director.

Although the shelter can return to normal operating procedures, Garcia said the lawsuit has negatively affected them.

“We depend a lot of volunteers and we’ve had volunteers leave because they’ve been concerned that they could somehow get caught up in this legal process,” Garcia said. “I’m sure it’s going to make other people who might consider volunteering think twice about wanting to volunteer.”