NYC Mayor Eric Adams
New York City Mayor Eric Adams AFP

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has garnered media attention after saying immigrants could help solve a shortage of lifeguards if they were given job permits because they are "excellent swimmers."

Asked about the potential shortage at the city's public pools and beaches as Memorial Day approaches, Adams wondered how many jobs in high demand could be filled if the city could expedite licenses for migrants and asylum-seekers currently living there but unauthorized to work.

"How do we have a large body of people that are in our city, and country, that are excellent swimmers and at the same time we need lifeguards — and the only obstacle is that we won't give them the right to work to become a lifeguard?", Adams said.

"So we have all these eligible people waiting to work with the skills we need to fill the jobs, but we're unable to allow them to work because bureaucracy is in the way. That doesn't make sense," he added, saying similar scenarios take place in other industries like food service and nursing.

When asked about the mayor's comments, its office answered with a veiled reference to the "swimmers" part of the statement, criticizing the focus and saying he was advocating for immigrants' right to work.

"Anyone who is trying to make more out of the mayor continuing to make that point is missing the forest for the trees," reads a comment by a spokesperson.

The renewed call to expedite migrants' ability to work comes as the amount that made their way to New York City gets closer to 200,000, as well as 50,000 applications for asylum. In a statement to Fox 5 News a City Spokesperson said that more than 65,000 are still in the city's shelter system and hundreds are still arriving every day.

Authorities have repeatedly claimed that the existing infrastructure and resources are overwhelmed, with Mayor Adams saying "there is no more room" in New York City and calling for migrants to go elsewhere.

The mayor traveled to Italy during the weekend to learn about the way the country is handling its own influx of migrants. There, he said he was impressed with the way the European country quickly allows them to begin working and teaches them basic Italian language skills.

"I'm going to, upon returning, really lean into international affairs, developing a regular communication with our mayors across the city, particularly big cities like Rome," Adams said.

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