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Portrait #4 Mr Cao goes to Washington

 Anh Quang Cao, or Joseph Cao, was born in Ho Chi Minh City in 1967. In 1975 he left Vietnam to go to the United States with other members of his family. After finishing university in Texas, he spent 6 years in a seminary training to become a Jesuit priest. However, he realised that his calling lay elsewhere. He was later awarded a law degree (JD – Juris Doctor) from the Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans and a Masters in Philosophy.

A committed man…

Joseph Cao became involved with Boat People SOS, working to support political refugees for more than 6 years. He later opened his own office, specialising in immigration law. In 2005 he was affected by Hurricane Katrina like several thousand other Americans in New Orleans. He lost his home and his office, both destroyed by the hurricane. As a result, Cao found himself at the forefront of a real fight to reconnect electricity, faced with the slow pace of governmental procedures.

After this experience he decided to enter the world of politics to continue his fight for social justice. He was elected as head of the Louisiana Republican Party, then as a delegate for the Republican National Convention. On 8 December 2008 he was elected asRepresentative of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.  One month later, he was the first American-Vietnamese person to be sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives.

… with an unusual profile

Joseph Cao was a member of several caucuses: Human Rights Caucus, Asian Pacific American Caucus, the African Partnership for Economic Growth Caucus and he is Co-Chair of the Caucus on Vietnam where he works to promote the interests of different Vietnamese communities in the country. In addition he founded the American Engagement Caucus, developing awareness at a national level about subjects which are close to his heart.

Joseph Cao represents a minority and finds himself in the delicate situation where he has to balance the aspirations of the Republican party, the needs of the Vietnamese community in the US and his own ideals. This balancing act raises many interesting questions which the director Leo Chiang explores in his film Mr Cao goes to Washington.


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