Archives for November 2014

Immigration Reform Updates

On Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, President Obama addressed the nation from the East Room of the White House. The subject – immigration reform. In a bold and controversial move, the President announced executive actions that represent an important policy change on deportation and provided temporary relief to undocumented, law-abiding immigrants who meet certain requirements.

News“You can come out of the shadows,” President Obama said to millions of immigrants currently without papers but who are committed to ‘playing by the rules’ if given the chance. These immigrants include parents of U.S. Citizens, those who have been in the U.S. for five or more years, those willing to pay taxes and – should future measures permit – those willing to pursue a legitimate path to citizenship.

The immigration reforms will afford eligible immigrants a chance for deferred deportation, providing much needed relief for up to 5 million including for many the ability work legally. Under a ‘felons, not families’ policy, new measures will shift the emphasis of deportation efforts away from routine round-ups of undocumented immigrants and instead focus on identifying criminals and security threats. An additional 20,000 border patrol agents would be introduced, along with a crackdown on companies employing undocumented workers.

summary by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services details the initiatives enacted under the announced executive actions, which include:

  • Broadening the eligibility criteria for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include those under 16 who have been in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, as well as extending relief and employment authorization under the program to three years
  • The introduction of a Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, which would allow parents of U.S. citizens and other lawful permanent residents present in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010 the same period of deferment and employment authorization
  • Making spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and children of U.S. citizens eligible for provisional waivers.
  • Simplifying the legal immigration process to continue to aid in job creation and economic recovery
  • Promoting and improving both citizen education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents

President Obama’s address began with a famous line of scripture: “We shall not oppress a stranger for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.” At its core, the executive actions aim to promote a process by which those already in this country who follow the law and contribute to society are legally recognized. The executive actions do not grant permanent legal status or citizenship to anyone.

Those who qualify for deferred deportation and are permitted to work will receive Social Security cards, provided they meet certain conditions: that they pay a fine for illegally entering the country, pay taxes, learn English and are willing to ‘go to the back of the line’. Underlying the reforms is a move to promote accountability on the part of immigrants, as well as providing the means by which this accountability may be honored and enforced.

For millions in limbo as Congress and the White House battled over immigration reform for the past 6 years, the new measures are nothing less than a “massive breakthrough for the immigration rights movement” according to Deepak Bhargava, director of the Center for Community, in an article in The New York Times. Aimed at directly supporting ‘hard working parents’ and those with families, the initiatives honor the American culture of inclusion and a society built on the energy, hard work and innovation of foreign entrepreneurs and immigrants.

For more information about immigration issues, please feel free to read through the information found in our Immigration Practice pages. If you, a loved one or someone you know might be eligible for deferred action or has a question regarding the latest executive actions on immigration, please contact the Atlanta immigration specialists at Brownstein & Nguyen.

Breach of Contract

With a population of just under 4,000 in the 2010 U.S. Census, the Village of Chester in New York is a quaint historical community. Since 2005 a developer has been trying to bring a new housing development to the Village. According to the developer, BT Holdings, this would mean new jobs, a tax windfall, and more housing for seniors, empty nesters, young couples, and families. But the development has been stalled for nearly ten years due to a zoning battle that has cost the developer $2.6 million pursuing approvals for the project .

Breach of ContractIn November 2014, the Village of Chester once again denied zoning for the development. After this last denial, BT Holdings filed a lawsuit against the village claiming a breach of contract. The attorney representing the village maintains that “[n]o breach had occurred because the village had signed no agreement with BT Holdings.”

The key issue in the case will be whether or not an agreement was reached between BT Holdings and the village regarding approval for the development. Although no written agreement was signed, the developer will try to prove there was an oral or implied agreement. While in some cases oral contracts are legally enforceable, they can be difficult to prove. It is highly recommended that anyone entering into a business transaction of any sort should have a written contract drafted and negotiated by a business attorney.

In any case involving a breach of contract that is proven, there are three main legal remedies that might apply: damages, rescission, and specific performance.


When a breach of contract takes place, it is possible for one party to seek compensation for financial harm or damages that may have occurred as a result of the breach. Damages typically may only be sought for definite losses, as future losses can be speculative and not easily determined. Examples of definite damages that may be claimed include actual out-of-pocket business expenses, legal expenses, and lost wages or revenues related to the breach of contract.


When a court determines that rescission is the appropriate remedy for a breach of contract, the original contract is rescinded. If the contract is canceled, the law will serve to return the non-breaching party to their original position as if the contract never existed. This may result in the return of compensation paid by the non-breaching party.

Specific Performance

In some cases, a court will require that certain duties required under the contract be performed by the breaching party. While not applicable in all cases, specific performance may apply where monetary damages for a breach are inadequate to completely restore the party seeking to enforce the contract. One example in which specific performance might be required includes the sale of real property for an agreed-upon price.

When a dispute arises involving a contractual agreement, it is best to seek legal support from an experienced business litigation attorney. The attorneys of Brownstein & Nguyen will meet with you and determine if a breach of contract has occurred, and advise you regarding your legal rights and the best course of action to take. Our Atlanta business lawyers have a proven track record of reaching the best possible results in contract dispute situations. Contact Brownstein & Nguyen for your legal business needs.

Hanging by a Moment


One freedom the Escalante children enjoy is the ability to play soccer in the park.

Yesser, Marialinda, and Yuri Escalante love life in the United States! From success in school, to playing a pick-up game of soccer at the local park, these three Guatemalan children want to live life to the fullest while they can. After all, they are hanging on by a moment, holding onto hope that they will be allowed to legally stay in the United States. They are currently awaiting a Feb. 17, 2015 hearing in the U.S. Immigration Court in Cleveland, Ohio.

While only time can tell what the outcome for the Escalante family will be, at least they know they have a fighting chance. According to the Transaction Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, 47% of unaccompanied minors represented by a lawyer during immigration proceedings have been allowed to stay in the United States. In contrast, only 10% of unaccompanied minors without a lawyer have been granted the right to stay. The Escalante family has hope thanks to the legal help they are getting through the Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio.

The legal process of gaining asylum, work permits, and other visas to legally stay in the United States can be overwhelming. While navigating the immigration system can sometimes seem like an impossible hurdle, freedom from extreme poverty, political oppression and physical peril like that faced by the Escalante family in Guatemala make the fight worthwhile. While the Escalante children have legal representation, not all unaccompanied minors are as fortunate.

In Atlanta, immigration lawyers Brownstein & Nguyen have helped countless individuals over the years with their immigration needs. If you or a family member are pursuing a green card, fiance or fiancee visa, or a visa for a spouse or minor child, contact our legal team for help. Our years of experience and knowledge have helped guide clients successfully through the immigration process.

Owning a Small Business-Are You Compliant?

HR compliance concerns for small businesses

Small businesses owners often neglect equally important legal affairs when they focus on the main aspects of their business. One of the key neglected areas is Human Resource management and legal compliance. Considering that HR deals with other people’s affairs, there are numerous federal and state laws that impact the employer-employee relationship. Over the years, these business laws have grown to regulate businesses as well as to protect employees. Here are highlights of key compliance areas that deserve attention from business owners.

WLitigationorkplace litigation

Various laws and government agencies focus on workplace discrimination, including discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. A small business owner needs to have in place mechanisms and policies designed to prevent discriminatory practices in the workplace. Doing do is a first step in avoiding potentially costly wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits. The legal costs and distraction associated with such cases can cripple, or even be fatal, to a small business. In addition, small business owners should provide extensive training for management on employment discrimination and harassment.

Compliance with Benefits Laws

Many federal and state laws and regulations govern employee benefits including health, disability, life and other insurance benefits as well as retirement plans. These laws and regulations are complicated, and can create a serious compliance headache for small business owners. Even managing benefits for a small number of employees requires expert advice and guidance. Business owners who offer benefits to employees must comply with numerous requirements including government filings, test conduction, and provision of required notices and documents to employees.

Expert guidance

One point of distress for small business owners is the combination of managing all of these tasks. Often, the owner, especially during the start-up, is the manager, human resources manager, sales executive, and customer service representative. A small business owner should focus on the main business elements such as sales and management. As a result, human resource issues often take a back seat. However, with HR often requiring expensive training for proper execution, it is important that it does not take a back seat. While the HR generalist may attend to basic human resource responsibilities, full compliance requires a solid understanding of labor relations, information systems, compensation and benefits, training, and staffing. Limited training is not an excuse when the small business owner is facing litigation due to non-compliance.

The Atlanta law offices of Brownstein & Nguyen are experienced in assisting small business owners with their legal responsibilities. Contact business litigation attorney Jay Brownstein for a consultation today regarding your small business concerns.