San Diego Catholic Charities struggles with security risks after accusation of ‘smuggling’

June 20, 2024, Catholic News Agency

A California Catholic charity has been struggling for weeks to deal with ongoing security risks amid claims that the organization is illegally sheltering and trafficking migrants. Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego CEO Vino Pajanor told CNA that the ongoing chaos, which includes protests and harassing messages, has been a shock even to workers who have served at the organization for decades. “They have never seen something like this,” he said.

Catholic Charities hires armed guards following video posted by alt-right social media influencer

June 13, 2024, ABC 10 News

They are at banks, schools and bars.

But now, armed guards are stationed outside the facilities of one of San Diego’s best-known charities. Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego says it’s under attack, and it’s no coincidence this is happening during an election year. CEO Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor tells Team 10 that James O’Keefe, a well-known social media influencer, is behind the recent security risks. He said the hostilities had broken his heart.

Faith-Based Groups That Assist Migrants Become Targets of Extremists

June 02, 2024, The New York Times

A man posing as a pest exterminator tried to gain access to a San Diego hotel that operates as a shelter for migrant families. The next day, a woman showed up claiming to be an immigrant in need of help. Workers at the shelter, run by Catholic Charities, turned away both impostors.

Three days later, menacing calls began pouring in to the staff. Voice mail left for the chief executive called him “scum” and “not really Christian.” A woman left another staff member an expletive-laced message about Catholics. She claimed that the nonprofit was flying migrants all over the country and profiting from an illegal operation.

Special Report: Living on the streets in Imperial Valley- part two

February 14, 2024 KYMA, KECY

Imperial County has many resources to help unsheltered people. On Tuesday, we brought you a story of a couple and their journey on the streets. Now, we bring you the resources that try to make a difference for people living on the streets. “That could be me, that could be my brother or sister, that could be my son, or daughter, or my relative and we start thinking that way we will be like do not condemn but to see what kind of assistance we can provide me,” said Vino Pajanor, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego CEO.

How San Diego Is Dealing with an Influx of Migrants

September 22, 2023 Voice of San Diego

Catholic Charities CEO Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor said his nonprofit is also doing its best to keep up. He said migrants remain for an average of a day-and-a-half before heading to their next destination with the nonprofit’s help. He’s concerned about what will happen when Catholic Charities moves out of its existing shelter into a smaller one come October – especially if current trends continue. Following the recent closure of one of the nonprofit’s two Imperial County shelters, Catholic Charities’ capacity will be halved due to funding cuts.


Border Patrol leaves migrants stranded in San Diego as shelters reach capacity

September 16, 2023 LA TIMES

But as a result of California’s budget deficit, a shelter run by Catholic Charities has had to scale back beds for migrants from 1,600 to 800, according to Vino Pajanor, the nonprofit’s CEO. Many, from shelter operators to state officials, point to the federal government as being ultimately responsible for paying for shelter services, rather than the state.


Vino Pajanor, CEO of Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego on migrant shelter program changes in 2023.

September 14, 2023 CBS8

SAN DIEGO – Vino Pajanor, CEO of Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego talks about changes in the migrant shelter program, cuts in the number of beds, and closure of shelters.


Migrant shelters only accepting most vulnerable

September 14, 2023 ABC 10News

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The days are numbered in this migrant shelter here in San Diego. Inside, the organizations helping migrants get to the next stop on their journeys are in a transition period. They are now only taking in the most vulnerable migrants. This has led to the street releases of migrants around the county.” Action is picking up along our southern border, with hundreds of migrants camped out waiting to be processed. This comes as migrant shelters are transitioning back to pre-COVID era models.


How other cities are responding to migrant crisis

September 07, 2023 Chicago Sun Times

In San Diego County — where it’s common for more people to cross the border in a single month than have arrived in Chicago in the last year — only around 1,000 migrants are in local shelters, said Catholic Charities of San Diego CEO Appaswamy ‘Vino’ Pajanor.

Catholic Charities has run San Diego shelters since 2021, Pajanor said. He estimated around 98% move beyond San Diego, most headed to New York, New Jersey or other parts of California.


San Diego shelter helps man after sudden death of Navy daughter

May 09, 2023 ABC 10

SAN DIEGO — …“The people here overwhelm me with their kindness and their help. I mean, they’d bend over backwards to help me. ”That help includes 100 beds and full wrap-around services for men, including all meals, laundry, counseling and case management. La Posada is part of Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego. CEO Vino Pajanor says George represents what most of the men here have faced. “What George shows to us today is that something happened in their life at some point in time, and that triggered events that led them to be unhoused,” says Vino.


Ways You Can Help Asylum Seekers at San Diego Border

May 12, 2023 NBC 7

SAN DIEGO — …”We have about 1,500 beds per night in the three shelters that we operate and run,” said Vino Pajanor, CEO of Catholic Charities of San Diego (CCSD). Over the years, CCSD has helped almost 200,000 asylum seekers through the process by offering them food, clothing, and a place to stay. Pajanor said the majority of asylum seekers are at their shelter for less than two days.



Local charities preparing for increase in migrants needing shelter

May 11, 2023 FOX 5 San Diego

SAN DIEGO — As thousands of migrants are anticipated to cross the Southern Border nationwide now that Title 42 has expired, a local service provider, Catholic Charities, is doing everything it can to be prepared.



US border cities prepare for migrant influx as Title 42 ends

May 11, 2023 The Christian Science Monitor

SAN DIEGO — …“Almost everybody covers their own travel,” says Ralph Enriquez, director of refugee and immigrant services at Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego on a recent shelter tour. Assuming that migrants don’t have points of contact in the U.S. or financial arrangements to cover their own travel, he says, is “a big mis-narrative.”…Meanwhile, the cycle of shelter residents, the paperwork and planes, continues. A few migrants walk past Mr. Enriquez on the tour, headed toward the departure area. Children clutch a bag of chips in one hand, waving goodbye with the other.

San Diego community converging to assist asylum seekers at San Diego-Tijuana border

May 11, 2023 The San Diego Union Tribune

SAN DIEGO — …This month alone, Catholic Charities has provided shelter to nearly 4,500 asylum seekers as they work to help them travel on to their final destinations around the country. These migrants have been processed and are either dropped off by Border Patrol or the Department of Homeland Security.

With Title 42 expiring, experts explain how asylum process works

May 10, 2023 KPBS Public Media

SAN DIEGO — Starting Thursday people seeking asylum in the United States will start their journey to try to stay here permanently. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado spoke with experts on how the process works.

Local groups bracing for surge in migrants

May 05, 2023 ABC 10 News

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A non-profit that gives temporary refuge to migrants who’ve been released from federal custody after being deemed to have legitimate asylum cases is preparing for a potential surge in people at its shelters next week. “We are prepared. We have gotten more diapers at our shelters now. We have gotten more food like cup of noodles,” said Catholic Charities CEO Vino Pajanor.

San Diego charities prepare for possible influx of migrants

May 04, 2023 CBS 8

SAN DIEGO — …”We want to ensure those individuals have a place to go,” said Vino Pajanor, CEO of Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego. Catholic Charities is one of several local non-profits preparing for a possible influx.

Pajanor says they’ve added staff and have been buying extra supplies such as toiletries, diapers and blankets. But, they’re limited on how many migrants they can help. Catholic Charities runs three shelters in San Diego and Imperial Counties, with a combined capacity of 1,500 people a day.


Opinion: A north San Diego County men’s shelter showed me the resilience of the homeless population

April 21, 2023 The San Diego Union Tribune

CARLSBAD — La Posada de Guadalupe, a shelter for homeless men and seasonal farm workers, is 1.6 miles from my home in Carlsbad. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an annual tradition for me to take my kids and drop off items like clothing, shoes and toiletries at this men’s shelter. During these short visits, I never invested the time to speak with the staff or residents and to truly comprehend what was being accomplished there.

Arrival in the U.S. Is Emotional for Refugees

March 9, 2023 Channel 10 News

San Diego- Channel 10 speaks with CEO of Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, Vino Pajanor. He describes how arrival in the United States is emotional for refugees. He also talks about the services CCDSD offers to refugees. 

Catholic Charities Day Center opens doors for the unhoused in Imperial County

February 23, 2023 Imperial Valley Press

EL CENTRO — The Catholic Charities Day Center is a newly opened facility in Imperial County for unhoused community members, offering a place to meet basic needs during the day and access resources necessary to overcome barriers. Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego (CCDSD) CEO Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor said this is the first shelter of its kind for the unsheltered community in Imperial Valley.



Carlsbad Approves $2M grant for Homeless Shelter Expansion

February 8, 2023 The Coast News Group

CARLSBAD — The La Posada de Guadalupe homeless shelter in Carlsbad was approved for $2 million in “seed investment” as the facility prepares for a major upgrade. The Carlsbad City Council approved two agreements — one with San Diego County and the shelter — during its Feb. 7 meeting. The city will give the funds to the currently men-only shelter so it can begin a feasibility study and design concepts to add 35 to 50 beds for women and families, according to Catholic Charities CEO Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor.



An inside look at a local Catholic Charities Testing Vaccination Resource Center for Migrants

January 29, 2023 Imperial Valley Press

HOLTVILLE — While asylum seekers and refugees are in contact with their sponsors in the United States, they may attend the Catholic Charities Testing Vaccination Resource Center, where they receive temporary housing, clothing, hygiene supplies, food, snacks, phones or chargers to continue to reach their final destinations in other parts of the U.S.

Ralph Enriquez, Director of Refugee and Immigrant Services at Catholic Charities, said in an interview on Monday, January 23 that the name defines the components of the operation and includes temporary respite, explaining what a explain a Testing Vaccination Resource Center (TVRC) is and does.

Carlsbad Homeless Shelter Expanding to Include Women and Children

December 19, 2022 NBC 7

The homeless crisis is an Issue not only in the city of San Diego, but other communities within the county. Last week, the city of Carlsbad was awarded a $2 million grant to help expand its only homeless shelter.Carlsbad had the fourth-highest unsheltered homeless population in North County at the time of the last Point-In-Time (PIT) count, San Diego County’s annual homeless census. In 2022’s PIT count, Carlsbad had 75 unsheltered individuals and North County had 787.


North County Report: Historically Men-Only Shelter Will Expand to Accept Women and Children

December 14, 2022 Voice of San Diego

After a day’s work as a public attendant at a hotel in North County, 58-year-old Michael Weidekemper rides his bike home to La Posada de Guadalupe, a homeless shelter in Carlsbad.  He was previously living on the streets but has been staying at La Posada for almost four months, he told me on a recent visit to the shelter. Despite having a job, he hasn’t been able to move into a place on his own – he just can’t afford it, he said, adding that he feels lucky to have a home at La Posada.

District Attorney encourages immigrants, refugees to report crime, says legal status won’t be reported

December 5, 2022 San Diego Union-Tribune

As part of the new outreach, the District Attorney’s Office has printed cards in English, Spanish, Farsi and Ukrainian to encourage refugees and immigrants to report crimes when they are victims or witnesses. Catholic Charities is among the organizations distributing the cards. There are also new videos in English and Spanish featuring District Attorney Summer Stephan and Cardinal Robert McElroy, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.


Community Foundation holds tenth National Philanthropy Day Awards

November 16, 2022 Imperial Valley Press

Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego was awarded Organization of Impact (Special Non-profit Achievement), during the IVCF 10th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Celebration, November 15, at the Old Eucalyptus School house in El Centro.

Rachel’s Promise, Shelter for Women Opens in East Village

July 21, 2022 Times of San Diego

The city of San Diego Thursday opened its newest shelter for those who lack shelter0 a 40-bed capacity in the East Village with a focus on women suffering from serious medical conditions.

Mayor Todd Gloria helped open the shelter, Rachel’s Promise, a collaboration between the city’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department and the San Diego Housing Commission.

It will operate under a SDHC contract with Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego and will offer housing assistance, meals, laundry facilities, showers, mail and telephone services and clothing.

Mayor Gloria opens new homeless shelter for women in downtown San Diego

July 21, 2022 CBS 8

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As part of his consistent and continued efforts to create more shelter beds to get people experiencing homelessness off the streets, Mayor Todd Gloria on Thursday announced the opening of the city’s newest shelter.

It’s called Rachel’s Promise, the downtown shelter will serve up to 40 women with medical needs.

Rachel’s Promise is a collaborative effort between the City’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department and the San Diego Housing Commission. It is operated under contract with the Housing Commission by the Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego.

Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, CEO Receives Exemplary Service Award

June 25, 2021 The Southern Cross

SAN DIEGO — The Knights of Columbus San Diego Chapter on June 19 presented its 2021 Exemplary Service Award to Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego.

The award recognized Pajanor’s service to the diocese during the COVID pandemic, which included the creation of Catholic Charities’ Emergency Food Distribution Network. The network provided millions of meals to people in need throughout San Diego and Imperial counties.

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