Annunciation House is a Church-based, nonprofit agency in El Paso, Texas, that for 46 years has provided emergency assistance to immigrants. It is currently helping refugees and asylum-seekers who have been released by U.S. immigration authorities and are awaiting a hearing on their claims.

The Texas Attorney General has attempted to shut down the organization, but his efforts have been stopped by state courts.

In a show of solidarity, Catholic bishops around the country have been voicing their support for the work being done by Annunciation House. The following statement was released by San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy on March 21, the date El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz and local community organizers led a march and vigil.

“As Catholic bishops from across the country gather in Texas today in defense of religious liberty, the bishops of San Diego stand in solidarity and prayer with them as we celebrate our Diocesan Chrism Mass this evening. The state of Texas is using governmental pressure to curtail the work of the Church in one of its most fundamental obligations: to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, and to provide drink to the thirsty. Our Lord tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that these are the criteria on which we will be judged at the end of our lives. No government can morally tell us to abandon or limit this mission. And no believer should be forced to choose between following the dictates of government and the duty to feed the hungry that our God has entrusted to them.

“We stand at a moment in our nation when the twin ends of Catholic teaching on immigration — the right to secure our borders and the obligation to provide generously and humanely for the immigrants who come to our shores — seem impossible to reconcile.

“The legacy of our nation demands that we find such a reconciliation, precisely by banishing the fears and polarization that warp our current national debate.”

From the Southern Cross