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Immigrants Of The Day: Anh "Joseph" Quang Cao of Vietnam, Anthony Ofodile of Nigeria, Edgar and Brigitte Bodenehimer of Germany

by Kevin R. Johnson

Anh "Joseph" Quang Cao (Vietnam)

Cao_img1 Today's Immigrant of the Day has is the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress. Elected on Saturday, he is an immigration attorney!

Anh "Joseph" Quang Cao was born in Vietnam and had to flee the country after Saigon fell in 1975 at age 8. His father, a South Vietnamese army officer, was imprisoned by Communist forces and later released. Cao earned his law degree from Loyola-New Orleans.
A Republican immigration attorney, he defeated Democratic U.S. William Jefferson, who was recently indicted on corruption charges, for the Fourth Congressional District seat in Louisiana.

Cao, 41, was born in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, the fifth of eight children. He grew up in Vietnam and can remember bombs exploding next to his elementary school. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, his family fled Vietnam.  Cao's father was imprisoned by the Communists, leaving his mother to raise the children.

Cao has volunteered at Boat People S.O.S., Inc. to assist poor Vietnamese in their quest for social justice and enculturation and to lobby the U.S. Congress on issues concerning civil and religious rights.

Cao opened his private law practice in 2002, which he continues to operate. Also in 2002, he was selected by Archbishop Alfred Hughes of the Archdiocese of New Orleans to be a member of the National Advisory Council to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cao's home and his law offices were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Last year, Cao was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal (a child of immigrants) to the Board of Elections for Orleans Parish. He was also elected to the Republican Parish Executive Committee and the State Republican Executive Committee where he continues to serve. In 2008 Joseph was elected as an at-large delegate to the Republican National Convention.

The Vietnamese community really is coming of age in the United States.  Just this weekend, we reported on the growing political clout of Vietnamese-Americans in the conservative bastion of Orange County, California.  And now Louisiana!

December 8, 2008 | Permalink

Anthony Ofodile (Nigeria)

The New York New York Law Journal recently profiled our Immigrant of the Day, Brooklyn civil rights lawyer Anthony Ofodile, who grew up in a small village in eastern Nigeria with eight siblings and no running water. Last November, Ofodile won a motion in a ground-breaking civil rights case just as his high-profile employment discrimination trial against real estate magnate Bernard Spitzer (Elliott's father) came to a close. Both cases made the N.Y. Times

Four former employees charged Spitzer with employment discrimination. The plaintiffs, who had worked as a doorman and porters at a luxury apartment building owned by Spitzer, alleged that her ordered a building superintendent to fire them and replace them with lighter-skinned, Hispanic workers. One man also claimed that he, unlike his fairer co-workers, was required to scrub a toilet with a toothbrush.  The jury awarded the men $1.3 million.

The same day Spitzer testified in the case a Brooklyn judge ruled in favor of Ofodile's clients in a federal civil rights action. The case involved two Arab men taken into custody after speaking loudly and checking their watches frequently on a flight from San Diego to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In that decision, Judge Frederic Block held that a suspect's ethnicity cannot serve as a factor in determining whether the government had probable cause for their "de facto arrests."

Ofodile as a young man in Nigeria traveled as far as eight miles round-trip each morning, carrying a bucket of water for his family. He graduated in the top two of his class of 450 at the University of Nigeria where he stayed on for law school.

As a young attorney, Ofodile soon settled into a small practice specializing in civil rights and employment discrimination cases. He built his practice by taking out advertisements in smaller, cheaper publications targeted toward lower-income communities, such as the Hispanic Yellow Pages.

Current clients include a group of Russian emergency medical workers claiming employment discrimination, a white City University of New York professor alleging sexual discrimination, and a white assistant principal who is suing the New York City Education Department for allegedly retaliating against her for reporting the abuse of children.

January 28, 2009 | Permalink

Edgar and Brigitte Bodenehimer (Germany)

Our Immigrants of the Day are Law Professors Edgar and Brigitte Bodenehimer, both of Germany.

Born in Berlin, Edgar (1908-91) was educated in universities of Geneva, Munich, Heidelberg, and Berlin. After receiving his from the University of Heidelberg, he immigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis. He then earned a LL.B. from the University of Washington. Edgar started his legal career as an Attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor and then became the principal attorney at the Office of Alien Property Custodian in Washington D.C.  In 1945, Edgar served in the Office of Chief of Counsel for the prosecution of Axis Criminality at the Nuremberg Trials. He joined the law faculty of the University of Utah in 1946, and became a founding faculty member at UC Davis School of Law in 1966. Although he retired in 1975, Edgar continued writing and lecturing at UC Davis until his death in 1991.  Edgar Bodenhimers scholarship includes Jurisprudence (1940), Jurisprudence: The Philosophy and Method of the Law (1962), Jurisprudence: The Philosophy and Method of the Law (revised edition, 1974), Treatise on Justice (1967), Power, Law, And Society; A Study of the Will to Power and the Will to Law (1972), and Philosophy of Responsibility (1980).

Also born in Berlin, Professor Brigitte M. Bodenheimer (1921-81) immigrated to the United States in 1934 and earned a second law degree from the University of Washington. She was a member of the University of Utah law faculty before coming to UC Davis in 1966; along with her husband Edgar, she was one of the founding faculty members of the law school. Professor Bodenheimer developed distinct features of King Hall that endure to this day. First, along with Edgar, she established the tradition of international and comparative law that continues as one of UC Davis's greatest strengths.  Second, she created a strong international presence in family law, a tradition that has been carried forward to this day. Professor Bodenheimer gained international distinction for her family law and child custody scholarship. Not content to limit her work to the academy, Professor Bodenheimer began yet another UC Davisl tradition and became a leading law reformer. To this day, her impact on countless children and their families lives on in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, for which she was the Reporter, and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which she helped draft.

Today, UC Davis School of Law is happy to host the 2008-09 Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law will feature Reva Siegel, Deputy Dean and the Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law and Professor of American Studies at Yale University. She will deliver a lecture entitled "Roe's Roots: The Women's Rights Claims that Engendered Roe."

January 26, 2009 | Permalink

These posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.

About The Author

Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.