New York City, Mayor Eric Adams, Migrants

NYC Mayor Says Migrants Are ‘Excellent Swimmers’ To Help Lifeguard Crisis

The Mayor's comments undermined the often dangerous journey many migrants take.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams has a unique solution to one of the city’s workforce crises. Adams faced backlash for referring to migrants as “excellent swimmers” that could help resolve the city’s lifeguard shortage.

Adams made the comment while speaking at a City Hall event on May 14. The city suffers from a lack of lifeguards for its pools and beaches, leading Adams to his solution. According to The New York Post, he referred to migrant people as “excellent swimmers” to fill the roles.

“How do we have a large body of people that are in our city, our 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,” explained the public official. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

He added, “We have all these eligible people waiting to work, with the skills we need to do the jobs, but we are unable to allow them to work because bureaucracy is in the way.”

The bureaucracy he referenced stems from the inefficient process of approving work visas for migrant workers. In Adam’s eyes, expediting these approvals can quickly relieve the city of this shortage.

However, some feel that his comments not only undermine the plight of migrant people but trivializes their journey. Describing them as excellent swimmers stems from many being forced to travel by water to get to the U.S. To critics of the mayor’s words, the offensive comment pokes fun at the dangerous travel conditions.

Over 180,000 migrants have arrived in NYC since 2022, according to the NYCLU. Many have struggled to obtain the necessary documents to fully establish themselves in America, and in addition to the city’s own housing crisis, they are leaving without shelter. As local leaders claim the issue stretches their resources thin, Adam’s comments spark greater backlash for how NYC has handled the influx of people thus far, especially for African migrants.

Despite this, many believe that the migrants are of great benefit to the city. According to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, job vacancies and a right to shelter make NYC an optimal place. Moreover, he stated, immigrants have always filled and uplifted the city.

“This is an opportunity to build a future thriving New York,” explained Lander to NYCLU. “Let’s look at the facts and not be shaped by our fears in how we develop thoughtful public policy to welcome this next generation of New Yorkers.”