• July 24, 2024

Judicial Watch, CatholicVote Sue DHS, HHS for Communications With Church Groups Over Alleged Role in Illegal Immigration

 Judicial Watch, CatholicVote Sue DHS, HHS for Communications With Church Groups Over Alleged Role in Illegal Immigration

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By Michael W. Chapman | February 15, 2022

Immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. (Getty Images)

Immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. (Getty Images)

(CNS News) — Two non-profit organizations, CatholicVote and Judicial Watch, recently filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) because they failed to provide requested information about their communications with Catholic-affiliated agencies at the border and the agencies’ alleged role in the surge of illegal immigrants over the last year.

“The Biden administration has refused to provide copies of communications between Catholic-affiliated charities and organizations at the border,” said CatholicVote President Brian Burch in a statement.  “Their lack of transparency and obstruction forced us to file these federal lawsuits.”

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“American Catholics deserve to know the full extent of the U.S. government’s role in funding and coordinating with Catholic Church-affiliated agencies at the border, and what role these agencies played in the record surge of illegal immigrants over the past year,” said Burch.

“We will do whatever is necessary to uncover the truth,” he added.

The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 4.

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(Getty Images)

The initial FOIA request, permissible by law, was sent to the Customs and Border Protection (a component of the DHS) and the HHS on Sept. 21, 2021. Both CatholicVote and Judicial Watch were seeking the following information for the time period Jan. 1, 2021 — Sept. 1, 2021:

“All communications between the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and any of the following:

  1. The Diocese of Brownsville (San Juan, Texas)
  2. Bishop Daniel E. Flores in his capacity as Bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas
  3. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (“CCRGV”)
  4. Sister Norma Pimentel in her capacity as the Executive Director of CCRGV
  5. The Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas

That same day, Sept. 1, 2021, CatholicVote and Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request for all communications “between the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the following:

  1. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (‘CCRGV’)
  2. Sister Norma Pimentel in her capacity as the Executive Director of CCRGV
  3. The Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas

The DHS was required to make a final determination about the FOIA request by Oct. 13, 2021 but it did not do so. The HHS was required to make a final determination by Sept. 30, 2021. It also failed to do so. The inaction by the two federal departments prompted CatholicVote and Judicial Watch to file their lawsuit.

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(Getty Images)

The lawsuit is requesting that the court order the DHS and the HHS to comply with the FOIA requests and pay attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs.

According to its website, “Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. … Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.”

CatholicVote’s mission, according to its website, is “to inspire every Catholic in America to live out the truths of our faith in public life.”   The organization is “a national faith-based advocacy organization, organized by faithful Catholic laity in full communion with the teachings of the Church, yet does not claim to speak for any individual bishop or the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

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