The leader of a Catholic political advocacy group Friday pushed back against criticism of the organization’s legal efforts to obtain federal documents related to the work Catholic dioceses and charities are doing to assist undocumented migrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border.
“Catholics and Americans more broadly are frustrated with the situation at our border, and anyone truly concerned should welcome more facts,” Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, told Catholic News Agency, adding that transparency “can only be a good thing.”
In an email Feb 9, Burch announced that CatholicVote had joined the conservative group Judicial Watch in filing a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alleging that the agencies were dragging their feet responding to Freedom of Information Act records requests CatholicVote filed on Sept. 1, 2021. The requests sought copies of “all communications” between the agencies and Catholic-affiliated groups working on the border.
“We want to know: What role are Catholic charities, dioceses, or Catholic-affiliated relief organizations playing in this effort? Are they helping house migrants in homes, hotels, or shelters? Are they paying for transportation, flights, buses, or other services — with government money?” Burch wrote in the email. “Is what they are doing legal? And is it the right thing to do?”
The FOIA requests specifically ask for records relating to the following groups and individuals: the Diocese of Brownsville; Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores; Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley; Sister Norma Pimentel, the latter group’s executive director; the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The lawsuits and the focus of the records requests met with sharp criticism from some Catholic leaders and groups.
“There is nothing wrong with feeding the hungry and providing care for those here in our country,” Pimentel told the National Catholic Reporter.
Bishop Flores also objected to CatholicVote’s actions. “I question why Catholic Charities is being singled out when a number of other NGOs and city entities have received and are also receiving funding,” he said. Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth echoed the same sentiment in a tweet posted Friday….
The above comes from a Feb. 11 posting on the Catholic News Agency site.