Felipe Merino Visits for Constitution Day

This past Thursday, September 17th, Felipe Merino who is the owner and managing attorney at Merino Law Firm spoke at our celebration of Constitution Day on the topic of birthright citizenship.

He began his discussion with statistics on birthright citizenship, stating that 7.5% of U.S. births are to unauthorized citizens and that over 4.5 million infants born unauthorized are living in the United States. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which has been in place since 1868, states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the Unites States and of the State wherein they reside.” Recently this amendment has been challenged and questioned by current U.S. presidential candidates as to whether the U.S. should continue allow citizenship to those who are born in the United States. Those who benefit from the 14th Amendment are those were born in the United States, those who are found in the country prior to five years old, those who were born in another country and can claim one of their parents are a U.S. citizen, and those who are born in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

This topic is very important to have a handle on because of the number of people a change in this amendment would affect. Merino himself mentioned that gets chills down his spine when he thinks about the implications that a change of this Amendment may have on many current citizens. While this issue worries him as well as many others, he believes that it would be difficult to make a change to this Amendment. Merino said, “Goshen has a different level of dialogue and a different amount of respect.” This is why he moved his main office to Goshen and enjoyed speaking to students and faculty for our Constitution event.

Merino received a bachelors of honors at Stanford University and attended law school at Notre Dame University, is main office is currently in down town Goshen. He explained that 60% of the cases he works are criminal and defense for immigrants and the other 40% is dealt with regular immigration situations.