Identifying the right local targets is a crucial step in an organizing campaign. Before advocates and community members start to push for a policy, it is important we understand the structure of our local government, the authority and jurisdiction of various local officials, and how all of these layers and actors interact with one another. Different officials and agencies hold various powers to create local laws and policies, as well as influence budgets. Join us on this webinar to learn how to identify the real decision-makers in your community, whether they are elected or appointed, and learn more about their powers and roles within the criminal and immigration landscape.
Carolina Canizales, Senior Texas Campaign Strategist, ILRC
Carolina is the Senior Texas Campaign Strategist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. She supports local Texas groups combat the ongoing collaboration between federal immigration authorities and local law enforcement. She has worked to advance immigrant youth rights for the past nine years and led deportation defense work for five years at a national and local level.
Prior to joining ILRC, Carolina served as the Program Coordinator for the UTSA Center for Civic Engagement, where she increased the civic scholarship and meaningful community involvement for the entire UTSA community. She also oversaw all communications for the Community Services division at the university.
From 2012 to 2016 Carolina led United We Dream's Deportation Defense Program. This program trained and empowered local communities to defend their rights, stop unjust deportations, and challenged ongoing collaboration between local police and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under Carolina's leadership, the program helped more than 500 families facing deportation, and held four congressional briefings in both the U.S House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to bring awareness of the deportation problem in immigrant communities.
In 2015, she helped establish the first national and volunteer-led hotline to track raids, checkpoints and other enforcement actions in major immigrant communities, while providing callers with Know Your Rights and legal services information. In the same year, she initiated the strategy and campaign plan to end the 287(g) agreement between the Harris County Jail and ICE.
Carolina has co-authored Deportation Defense: A Guide for Members of Congress and Other Elected Officials (2014) and Ending Local Collaboration with ICE (2015).
In 2012, Carolina graduated from the University of Texas-San Antonio with a B.A. in Communications. She also completed a master's in public administration program at UTSA in 2019. She is fluent in Spanish.
Anita Gupta, Staff Attorney, ILRC
Anita Gupta is a staff attorney based in Austin, Texas, where she focuses on policy work in Texas at the local and state levels. This includes developing and cultivating local partnerships with community-based organizations, elected officials, and law enforcement agencies to advance immigrant and criminal justice policies throughout Texas and developing unique legal strategies that support those policies. She serves as an expert and thought partner to community based-organizations and local government officials on issues related to the intersectionality of immigration and criminal justice, such as SB4, 287(g) and other policies that impact immigrants in Texas locally. Anita also contributes to the ILRC’s Attorney of the Day program, practice manuals and advisories, and webinar trainings. Prior to joining the ILRC, Anita worked in private practice in Austin, specializing in removal defense and humanitarian-based immigration relief. She also worked at American Gateways, one of the largest immigration legal service providers in Central Texas. Before moving to Texas, Anita was a staff attorney in the Immigrant Legal Defense project at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) in Chicago, where she represented low-income immigrants in a variety of matters before the Chicago Immigration Court, USCIS, and ICE. Anita has extensive experience with several types of immigration cases, including asylum, cancellation of removal, waivers, adjustment of status, family-based petitions, DACA, U-visas, VAWA, TPS, naturalization, and more.
Anita obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she earned her law degree from DePaul University in Chicago. During law school, Anita participated in DePaul’s Asylum and Refugee Law clinic, and she interned at the Legal Assistance Foundation and the National Immigrant Justice Center. Anita is admitted to the Illinois bar, and she serves on the executive board for the South Asian Bar Association of Austin. She speaks Spanish.
Naiyolis Palomo Garcia, Texas Campaign and Partnerships Strategist, ILRC
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.
Hannah Alexander, Staff Attorney, Workers Defense Project
Hannah Alexander is a staff attorney at the Workers Defense Project in Austin where she represents workers in employment-related cases, supports WDP's organizing efforts, and does policy work. Previously, she worked for the City of Dallas in the Office of Fair Housing and Human Rights focused on issues related to fair housing, equity, and opportunity, including the city's paid sick leave ordinance. Immediately after law school, she worked for the Equal Justice Center in its Dallas office, first as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and later as a staff attorney. As a fellow, Hannah focused on helping low-wage, immigrant janitorial workers challenge and prevent workplace sexual assault, theft-of-wages, employer fraud schemes, and other severe employment abuses.
At Texas Law, Hannah was editor-in-chief of the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights; president of the Public Interest Law Association; and lead planner for the 2015 Change it Up!. She participated in the Mithoff Pro Bono Program’s winter break trip to the Texas RioGrande Valley all 3 years and served on the planning committee for 2 years. She participated in the Immigration Clinic and the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic; worked at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Texas Civil Rights Project; and served as a policy analyst at the Texas Legislature.