New York Mayor Eric Adams said he has a solution to the city’s lifeguard shortage: Hire immigrants since “they are excellent swimmers.”

“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 Tuesday during a press briefing, after he was asked if lifeguard staffing at beaches and pools would be a problem, NBC News reported.

Adams also asked to imagine what could happen if work licenses are expedited for immigrants. The mayor didn’t elaborate on the “swimmers” comment, but it came as New York City has faced an influx of immigrants in the past year, many of whom conceivably could have crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico.

The mayor’s office later Tuesday said Adams has been pushing immigrants to solve the city’s labor needs for some time, and said more shouldn’t be read into the “swimmers” comment.

“Mayor Adams has been clear that there is nothing more un-American than not allowing someone to work,” a spokesperson from his office said. “Anyone who is trying to make more out of the mayor continuing to make that point today is missing the forest for the trees.”

Adams also said it “does not make sense” that jobs aren’t being filled because of red tape.

“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,” he said. “That just does not make sense.”

According to Anne Williams-Isom, the city’s deputy mayor for health and human services, there are more than 197,100 migrants in New York City and 50,000 applications from people seeking asylum.

Adams said the city could also fast-track work permits that would allow migrants to work in other high-demand jobs, including nursing and food service.

Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi said there are 560 people qualifying to be lifeguards in New York City this year, up from 364 last year.

However, about 1,500 lifeguards are needed for New York City’s 14 miles of public beaches and public pools, according to city officials.

In recent years, the Adams administration has pushed for hiring new lifeguards, including raising their pay to $22 an hour and offering bonuses of $1,000 for people who will work through the peak season.

Two years ago, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tried to alleviate the shortage by lowering the minimum age for certified lifeguards from 16 to 15.

There also is a national lifeguard shortage, which the American Lifeguard Association blames in part on the COVID-19 pandemic, which it said eliminated training and created the perspective that lifeguarding is not an essential job.

“As the summer approaches, there is a growing concern that public swimming pools across America may be closed again due to a lifeguard shortage,” the association said. Last year, about a third of the 309,000 public swimming pools in the U.S. were closed because of the lack of lifeguards.

Sandy Fitzgerald ✉

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 


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