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NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca Visits and Learns From Amsterdam - by Els de Graauw & Floris Vermeulen

Published on 8 August 2019

Els de Graauw
Carlos Menchaca

In June, New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (Democrat) visited Amsterdam for several days.  Menchaca is the first Mexican-American elected to city council, the first openly gay office holder in Brooklyn, and represents a very diverse and rapidly gentrifying waterfront district that includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights, and portions of Borough Park, Dyker Heights, and Windsor Terrace.  He chairs the council’s Committee on Immigration and—among other things—has authored the legislation for New York’s first municipal identification card IDNYC, which now serves over one million registrants.

Els de Graauw

In Amsterdam, Menchaca participated in the Governing Brooklyn: Local Politics in a Global City panel of the WeMakethe.City Festival, where he addressed how immigration and diversity have influenced his approaches to addressing key policy issues and strategies for achieving effective policy solutions, as well as how he has worked to empower (undocumented) immigrants and other residents. Other panelists included Femke Roosma (GroenLinks), Sylvana Simons (BIJ1), Savannah Koolen (Amsterdam City Rights), Hidaya Nampiima (Amsterdam City Rights), and David Laws (UvA).

Els de Graauw

During the remainder of his stay in Amsterdam, Menchaca met with Deputy Mayor Rutger Groot Wassink to exchange ideas about how best to leverage the growing immigrant diversity in both New York and Amsterdam. Menchaca also sat down with officials from Amsterdam and Utrecht to discuss how both city government and city residents can benefit from a municipal ID card program like New York’s IDNYC initiative. And he met with the organizers and members of Amsterdam City Rights to discuss the challenges faced by undocumented individuals in both New York and Amsterdam, and how city officials and community members can work together to find solutions.

Els de Graauw

Besides migration and diversity issues, Menchaca also had the opportunity to learn how Amsterdam is building resilience in the face of climate change and rising sea levels, challenges that Menchaca’s district faces as well. Together with architects from Space&Matter, he visited new housing developments in Buiksloterham in Amsterdam North, including Schoonship and de Ceuvel. Together with officials from City District Amsterdam East, Menchaca visited new housing developments and community initiatives in Amsterdam East, including floating houses and SET IJburg at Steigereiland. He also had the opportunity to view up close the new land creation under way as part of IJburg 2nd  phase. While out there, he also met with the Executive Committee of City District Amsterdam East to discuss participatory democracy initiatives, including for how to structure those in brand new, yet-to-be-built communities like those in Amsterdam East.

Els de Graauw

This city visit was made possible with generous financial support from the Centre for Urban Studies and programming support from Pakhuis de Zwijger.