Eric Adams Called Migrants ‘Excellent Swimmers.’ He Explains Why.

When Mayor Eric Adams was asked about New York City’s lifeguard shortage at his weekly news conference, he seized the moment to make a point about potential migrant workers.

Imagine if the city could quickly hire migrants for jobs that urgently needed to be filled, he wondered aloud, before asking: “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?”

His remarks on Tuesday drew criticism from all sides. Immigrant rights groups called the comments “racist and divisive.” Conservative leaders viewed them as an attempt to legitimize the hiring of noncitizens.

Mr. Adams, unsurprisingly, saw things differently.

On Wednesday, the mayor explained that he had visited migrant centers in the city and asked people there if they knew how to swim. He was “blown away” by the number of those who raised their hands.

“We have these capable people who know how to swim — from West Africa, from Ecuador, from South and Central America, from Mexico — and we have a shortage of lifeguards,” Mr. Adams said in response to a question from a reporter from the news outlet The City as he walked into City Hall. “If we start planning out now, we could be prepared next year.”

As nearly 200,000 migrants have arrived in New York City over the last two years, Mr. Adams, a Democrat, has repeatedly called for them to be able to work so they can support themselves. In his remarks on Tuesday, he also suggested that migrants fill key jobs such as food service workers and nurses.

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