CatholicVote Civic Action and Judicial Watch, two watchdog advocacy groups, joined together to file a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking public records disclosure of government communications with Catholic organizations that aid illegal migrants at the southern border.
The lawsuit was filed against Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after the agencies failed to adequately respond to legally submitted requests for records made according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) last September.
The requests submitted under FOIA sought communications between the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, the Diocese of Brownsville, the Humanitarian Respite Center, and the federal Customs and Border Protection agency.
CatholicVote President Brian Burch issued a statement saying the American Catholics it represents deserve to know the details involved with the federal government’s funding and support of agencies affiliated with the Church along the southern border. He added that his group should have complete information on the role played by Church agencies in the record surge of illegal border crossers over the last year.
The Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has been working through its Humanitarian Respite Center since at least last summer in helping migrants entering from Mexico. In a statement to reporters on February 3, the charity’s Executive Director Sister Norma Pimentel said that her organization is funded for some of its work with “taxpayer’s money.”
The charity was mentioned in a police interaction with a COVID-positive family of illegal migrants at a La Joya, Texas, Whataburger restaurant. The family told a La Joya police officer that they were staying in a local hotel room being paid for by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Following additional investigation, the investigator discovered that the organization had rented out all hotel rooms to illegal migrants who tested positive for COVID.
In a press report at the time, the charity said that the family breaking quarantine in their hotel room was an “isolated case.”
The complaint, which seeks to divulge the requested data and the fees and costs connected with pursuing the action after the government failed to comply with the original records requests, has yet to receive a response.