Naiyolis Palomo Garcia is a political refugee from Cuba, who has been fortunate to call Houston her second home. Naiyolis’ passion for advancing immigrants’ rights, commitment to reforming the criminal legal system, and experience in community organizing, policy and advocacy, has allowed her to effectively advocate for comprehensive local policies solutions that address the over criminalization and incarceration of communities of color.
Prior to joining the ILRC, Naiyolis worked at the ACLU of Texas as an Engagement Manager. She worked collaboratively and strategically with five unique coalitions, two which covered immigrants’ rights and criminal justice issues. In these coalitions, she helped create local and statewide policies that actively challenged the arrest to deportation pipeline, expanded access to public defense, and supported the establishment of a legal defense fund for residents facing deportation in Harris County. Naiyolis has conducted more than 50 educational events and trainings and Know Your Rights presentations. She held educational webinars alongside civil rights advocates and experts, to equip community members, students, and organizers with advocacy tools and constitutional rights information. In 2019, she created an Immigrants’ KYRs canvass initiative to empower the immigrant community with constitutional rights information, posting more than 200 materials in 40 local businesses, schools, churches and mosques in Houston.
In 2017, Naiyolis created a 287(g) county database for 18 Texas counties that have these agreements with ICE, and in 2019 she worked alongside legal experts and community partners to urge counties not to renew these contracts. She also helped co-authored ACLU of Texas’s 287g blog in 2017 and #HTOWNSTORIES: A Macro Social Work Textbook on Community Engagement.
Through graduate school internships Naiyolis had the opportunity to serve multiple immigrant communities in naturalization and DACA clinics, as well as assisting individuals with their VAWA and U-Visa applications. As an undergrad, she also supported and directed unaccompanied minors to the appropriate legal and social services.
In 2017, as part of the “Be-the-Peace-Be-the-Hope” program, Naiyolis spent time at refugee camp in Burkina Faso and helped connect U.S. children with refugee children through social and emotional education curriculum, and community and leadership development. She then facilitated workshops in schools to introduce the same concepts of building resilience and self-reliance to immigrant youth in Houston.
In 2018, while a student at the GCSW, Naiyolis initiated and co-led a conversation about race and privilege with distinguished activists Angela Davis and Jane Elliott, drawing an audience of more than 5,000 community members.
Naiyolis has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Houston-Downtown and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. She is fluent in Spanish.