Sasha Nasir '24 Helped Fight Discrimination in ACLU NorCal Internship

headshot of UC Law SF student Sasha Nasir

UC Law SF student Sasha Nasir ’24 did legal research and writing, community organizing, and advocacy work with ACLU NorCal this summer.

UC Law SF student Sasha Nasir ’24 spent the summer helping people who face discrimination in her internship with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, or ACLU NorCal.

She worked with the organization’s Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Justice team under an integrated advocacy model, which combines litigation, political advocacy, public education, and community organizing to attack systemic problems on a holistic level.

Nasir talks more about her work and why she believes it was a valuable experience.

Q: What did you do in your internship?

A: As part of my duties in the legal-policy department, I researched, wrote, and did other work to support ACLU NorCal’s efforts to help marginalized communities and enforce California’s anti-discrimination laws. This included helping transgender sex workers in San Francisco facing housing discrimination and trans youth banned from playing on recreational sports teams. I also sat in on policy drafting meetings to promote education equity and supported other projects, including helping those who were denied access to birth control through employer-provided health insurance.

On the community organizing side, I worked with coalitions to address issues in the state’s child welfare system. This system allows the government to surveil, control and punish families, especially racial minorities, for conditions of poverty, which are often falsely characterized as neglect. I also helped support a coalition that gives those affected by these unfair systems a voice. Their lived experiences help guide strategies to promote change and offer support. Among other work, I did community outreach, volunteer recruitment, and helped facilitate meetings.

I also learned a lot about efforts to decriminalize sex work, for which a disproportionate number of Black, indigenous and LGBTQI+ people are criminalized. I routinely met with attorneys and interns from other ACLU affiliates to help monitor the implementation of a new state law that bans criminalizing people for loitering with intent to engage in sex work. Our goal was to ensure local law enforcement agencies were complying with the law and clearing people’s criminal records.

Q: What did you gain from this experience?

A: This internship exposed me to many different areas. It also demonstrated how many laws and systems in our society pose obstacles to true freedom and autonomy for marginalized communities. I’ve learned how important it is to ensure that people can freely make decisions and access resources that are too often limited to a more privileged class.

Q: How did this help advance your career goals?

A: I learned how to incorporate community lawyering and integrated advocacy, which was a big goal of mine coming into law school. Legal and policy initiatives can only take us so far in achieving true justice for people on the ground. Involving impacted communities with the lived experiences to guide us is the strength of this model. Working with community organizers, grassroots movements, and coalitions is where many lawyers now focus their work, and that’s what I hope to do – serve people at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities. Even if I’m not working directly with one client, I want to help these communities work together.

More about Nasir

Nasir has a bachelor’s degree in feminist studies with a minor in professional writing for civic engagement from UC Santa Barbara. Last fall, she helped a client facing persecution in his home country apply for asylum in the U.S. as part of the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at UC Law SF. In the clinic, she practiced skills including trauma-informed lawyering, client interviewing, and legal research and writing. She plans to graduate in May 2024 with a concentration in social justice lawyering.