Council Member Carlos Menchaca Visits City Tech Citizenship Classes at Industry City

City Tech students enrolled in the Division of Continuing Education’s Adult Learning Center presented New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca with a certificate of appreciation and recognition for “outstanding service and support of adult literacy programs,” on June 29 at Industry City in Sunset Park. Menchaca was invited to visit City Tech’s ESOL/Citizenship classes held at Industry City’s Innovation Lab, which is a public-private collaboration that includes Industry City, City Tech, and local non-profit community-based organizations: Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC), Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI).

Menchaca, who represents district 38, has been a leader in the fight for adult literacy funding in New York City, working closely with the NYC Coalition of Adult Literacy, since he joined the City Council in 2013.

“We invited [Menchaca] to visit our two ESOL/Citizenship classes since students had been learning about US history and government while improving their English. This included representative democracy, so it was a perfect fit for the City Council member from the district to visit, and he did not disappoint,” said Leah Clay-Youman, director of special projects at City Tech. “He spoke passionately about how government can help them, really listened when they spoke, showed great appreciation for their efforts, and also a deep understanding of the importance of adult literacy. Menchaca also showed a strong appreciation for the diversity of New York City.”

Menchaca took questions from the students and when asked about his greatest accomplishments he mentioned his work on the NYC ID program, which is especially important for undocumented workers, and added that he is especially proud of being the first openly gay city council member as well as being the first Mexican American. He encouraged all women in the room to consider running for office, stressing that the City needs more women elected officials. He committed to personally help anyone present interested in running for an elected office.

A student spoke about how she was late to class that day because she had to wait for her husband to get home from work, and then literally handed their baby to him as she walked out the door to come to class. She said that it’s very hard to find time to study for her citizenship exam on her own, and thanked the City Tech program for helping her to recently pass her citizenship interview.

Menchaca said he understood the difficulty of learning English while raising children and working, having watched his own parent—a single mother of seven children—struggle with the language. He also shared how the issue of US citizenship preparation was near and dear to him, because his partner, who is Egyptian, had recently passed his citizenship interview.

Menchaca told the students at the end of the event: “You’re what makes New York City beautiful!”

City Tech’s citizenship classes and the Spanish High School Equivalency (HSE) class were funded by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs as part of the ActionNYC Education Initiative.

New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca is Chair of the Committee on Immigration and a member of the LGBT Caucus. He authored, introduced and passed legislation to create the first municipal identification card program in New York City, and worked to secure funding for the largest public defender program for undocumented immigrants in the nation. Menchaca represents an incredibly diverse district of front-line communities in New York: a large Chinese and Latino immigrant population, the second largest public housing development in the City, and a waterfront community heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy. After a successful first round of Participatory Budgeting last fiscal year, Menchaca plans to bring a broader vision of participatory democracy to this diverse district by encouraging community involvement in the entire budget, legislative, and policy making process. District 38 includes portions of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Carroll Gardens, Dyker Heights, Gowanus, Green-Wood Cemetery, Red Hook, South Slope, Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn.

About City Tech (New York City College of Technology) City Tech, of The City University of New York, is the largest four-year public college of technology in the Northeast and a national model for technological education. Located in Downtown Brooklyn, City Tech has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students in 29 baccalaureate and 27 associate degree programs and was recently ranked third in the nation in producing the highest paid associate degree-earning graduates (www.payscale.com). City Tech was also ranked fifth out of 369 public colleges and universities in overall economic mobility for its students and ninth among more than 2,000 U.S. institutions (www.equality-of-opportunity.org).

For more information, visit www.citytech.cuny.edu.