Immigration Lawyer/ U.S. Congressman Ahn "Joseph" Cao: Last In, First Out in 2010

Congress doesn't keep records for the least amount of time it takes a newly elected House representative to foul up his re-election chances.

But if it did, the dubious distinction would go to Republican Ahn "Joseph" Cao from Louisiana's Second District.

On March 26, only two months after being sworn in, Cao, a Vietnamese refugee, former Jesuit seminarian and immigration lawyer, was one of the first seven in the House who co-signed the proposed DREAM Act legislation, H.R. 1751.

The group included five all-too-familiar Democrats—John Conyers, Illena Ros-Lehtinen, Zoe Lofgren, Jarid Polis, Lucille Roybal-Allard and two Republicans, Devin Nunes and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

The DREAM Act, which hopes to grant in-state tuition fees to illegal aliens, does absolutely nothing for Cao's constituents—of whom two-thirds are black—and nothing for his fellow Vietnamese who by virtue of their refugee status are legally in the U.S. Furthermore, those Louisiana-born Vietnamese teenagers who may now be applying to college are U.S. citizens.

Why then would Cao make co-signing the DREAM Act his first official matter of business? Is it because of his immigration lawyer profession? More amnesties certainly mean more business, even though Cao won't be around for at least two years to cash in on it.

Or is it Cao's Roman Catholic training that generates a knee-jerk support of immigration in all its forms?

The answer is probably a little of each. But whatever the reason, it's an odd choice to kick off his Congressional career because the DREAM Act hurts the blacks who voted for him by unfairly pitting them against aliens—mostly Mexicans—for college admission.

And, adding to Cao's weird priorities is that (as I learned from more than two decades of teaching English to Southeast Asians) the Vietnamese are strongly opposed to illegal immigration.

From their perspective, the U.S. invited them to America after the war destroyed their country by killing millions of their people.

The Vietnamese do not view crossing the border to get a job in construction or landscaping as compelling reasons to come to America compared to their own circumstances.

They're angered by the reality that by and large illegal aliens get the same benefits as the Vietnamese—a serious sore spot with them.

Since Cao needed all the help he could get to win his seat, he'd be wise to remember who his friends are.

Three years after he set up his New Orleans law practice, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city's 15,000-strong Vietnamese community and propelled Cao into political activism.

In 2006, a group of Vietnamese plaintiffs fought against a city plan to put a landfill in their neighborhood.

During the landfill conflict, Cao decided to run for state representative as an Independent. But despite knocking on doors, putting up signs and raising $20,000, Cao came in fifth out of six candidates.

In the process, though, Cao gained the attention of former City Councilman Bryan Wagner who persuaded Cao to register as a Republican. [Louisiana Congressman Elect Anh "Joseph" Cao: From Aspiring Priest to Politician, by Dan Gilgoff, U.S. News and World Report, December 16, 2008]

The biggest boost to Cao's career, however, was the Democratic Congressional nine-term incumbent William Jefferson.

Jefferson, readers will recall, is the politician/criminal that commandeered scarce National Guard resources during the Katrina aftermath to recover $90,000 of bribe money from his freezer.

That's not all.

Jefferson also sought millions more in nearly a dozen separate schemes to enrich himself by using his office to broker business deals in Africa. As a result, in 2007, Jefferson was indicted on 16 corruption counts on racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.  [New Orleans Voters Oust Indicted Congressman William Jefferson with Pioneering Vietnamese-American Joseph Cao, by Cain Burdeau, Associated Press, December 6, 2008]

Despite running against one of the weakest candidates on a federal ballot in many decades, Cao could only eke out a 1,826-vote victory.

The results posted on the Louisiana Secretary of State's website showed Cao with 33,122 votes (49.55 percent), Jefferson and Jefferson 31,296 (46.82 percent) In Orleans Parish, Jefferson won by 23,197 to 20,246 where 21 of the 392 precincts showed zero votes for Cao. 

The Republican Party's reaction to Cao's success proves just how fouled up the G.O.P. is.

Of course, the party refers to Cao as its "new darling". In an internal memo he sent to House Republicans titled "The Future Is Cao", Minority Leader John Boehner hailed the freshman Congressman for the example he set for the flailing G.O.P.

That's all nonsense.

Cao has virtually no chance to be re-elected in 2010. The demographics of the 2nd District are too stacked against him. Assuming Cao gets every single Asian vote, it would only represent 3 percent of the total. Virtually any respectable Democratic candidate will beat Cao.

Cao's inability to raise money also indicates his narrow base and will further hamper his 2010 efforts.

In fact, Cao's defeat is so universally anticipated that Republicans…contemplate running him as a primary challenger to U.S. Senator David Vitter.

Louisiana insiders think since Vitter has corruption issues similar to Jefferson's—he was fingered as a customer in the D.C. Madam prostitution ring—Cao could capitalize.

In the meantime, Cao is trying to find his way—and making a fool of himself in the process. 

Scrambling around, Cao has made meaningless overtures to blacks. He's appealed to join the Congressional Black Caucus.

But since its founding in 1971, the race-focused caucus has never had a member who was not African-American and only one Republican memberGary Franks, a former Connecticut U.S. Representative.[Rep.-elect Anh Joseph Cao Tries to Crack Black Caucus, by Jonathan Tilove, The Times-Picayune, December 18. 2009]

But most of all Cao doesn't do himself any favors by supporting anti-American—and of specific significance to him—anti-black legislation like the DREAM Act.

Instead of aligning himself with Congress's most radical elements, Cao could improve his bleak 2010 prospects by tangibly reaching out to black voters by exposing the DREAM Act as the hurtful-to-his-constituents amnesty that it is.

Cao claims that he isn't interested in re-election and that he is motivated simply by the desire to do what's best for his district.

But if that were true, Cao would be on the attack against the DREAM Act and other similarly treasonous legislation.

If Cao doesn't do that soon, he can count on being drummed out of office and sent back to practicing immigration law—where he can carry out the same subversive agenda he's currently promoting in Congress.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.