NEW YORK – A district judge in Texas has temporarily blocked an attempt by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to shut down a Catholic migrant shelter in El Paso, allowing the shelter to operate as normal while the standard civil process plays out.

Paxton announced his lawsuit against the shelter, Annunciation House, which has operated in El Paso since 1978, on Feb. 20. Paxton sought to revoke the shelter’s registration to operate in the state, alleging that it “engaged in legal violations such as facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.”

In response, Annunciation House called Paxton’s claims “unfounded,” and his attempt to shut the organization down “illegal, immoral and anti-faith.”

On March 10, El Paso District Judge Francisco Dominguez questioned Paxton’s intentions.

“The Attorney General’s efforts to run roughshod over Annunciation House, without regard to due process or fair play, call into question the true motivation for the Attorney General’s attempt to prevent Annunciation House from providing the humanitarian and social services that it provides,” El Paso District Judge Francisco Dominguez wrote in a March 10 order, obtained by Crux.

“There is a real and credible concern that the attempt to prevent Annunciation House from conducting business in Texas was predetermined,” Dominguez continued.

The case between Paxton and Annunciation House boils down to Paxton demanding Annunciation House provide him records related to the violations he alleges, and Annunciation House refusing to do so. Paxton then sued to shut the shelter down. Meanwhile, Annunciation House asked the courts to decide what documents Paxton can legally access.

Per Dominguez’s order, the dispute between the sides will now follow standard civil proceedings, and until it is resolved Annunciation House can maintain its status as a non-profit entity in the State of Texas. No further dates for the case have been set.

The attorney representing Annunciation House said they are pleased with the court’s decision.

“We’re very pleased with the Court’s ruling regarding Annunciation House. The Court demands that standard civil procedures be followed, which will mean a fair and orderly process for determining what documents the law allows the Attorney General to see,” Jerome Wesevich, the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid’s lead counsel on the case said in a March 11 statement.

“Annunciation House needs to collect sensitive information, including health information, concerning its guests, and it is imperative for the safety and well-being of the community that the releasing of this sensitive information be handled with care and the law in mind,” Wesevich continued.

Attorney Robb Farquharson, who is representing Paxton, did not respond to a Crux request for comment.

Dylan Corbett, the executive director of the Hope Border Institute, an El Paso-based humanitarian organization, told Crux that Dominguez’s order keyed in on the true intent of Paxton’s actions – “to intimidate, to sow chaos and to politicize the essential humanitarian work done in El Paso every day.”

Corbett acknowledged, however, that the case is not over yet.

“That the court has stepped in provides a measure of due process and protection for Annunciation House,” Corbett said in a March 12 email. “But it doesn’t resolve key religious liberty concerns and we don’t know how far Paxton will go in attacking our community’s aid workers and migrant relief work.”

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg