Merle Kahn

Senior Attorney Contractor

Merle Kahn has been exclusively practicing immigration law for over thirty years. For the past fifteen years she has been increasingly focusing her practice on the intersection of criminal and immigration law and on removal defense. She has vast experience in removal defense, federal appeals, the immigration consequences of crimes, family immigration, naturalization, and humanitarian immigration such as asylum, VAWA and U visas. She provides technical assistance through the ILRC’s Attorney of the Day program mentoring and assisting public defenders, criminal defense attorneys, private attorneys and nonprofit attorneys and staff with a vast array of immigration law and questions.

Since joining the ILRC as a consultant in 2023, she has contributed to several ILRC manuals including, Essentials of Asylum Law, Temporary Protected Status: Practice and Strategies, Removal Defense: Defending Immigrants in Immigration Court, and California Judges Benchbook: Domestic Violence Cases. She has authored practice advisories, presented webinars, led the ILRC 40 hour basic immigration law training, and has served as a panelist on a number of issues for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Prior to joining the ILRC she was Of Counsel at Daniel Shanfield – Immigration Defense, PC, where she represented clients before USCIS, ICE, EOIR, and the Ninth Circuit. She is the creator and writer of Top of the Ninth, a blog about important Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit, and Board of Immigration Appeals immigration cases. She founded and directed a pro bono legal clinic for refugees and asylees through Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley (JFS) and AILA. In 2016 Merle was named an AILA Pro Bono Champion. Before entering the field of immigration law, Merle was a prosecutor for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission for the Supreme Court of Illinois.

Merle earned her law degree from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in English and American Literature. Merle is admitted to the California Bar.