NYC mayor ripped by immigration activists over ‘racist’ claim that migrants make ‘excellent swimmers’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is taking fire from immigration activists over what they say is a “racist” comment about migrants being suitable to fill a shortage of lifeguards as they are “excellent swimmers” — but the mayor’s office claims they are missing the point.

“New Yorkers are looking to Mayor Eric Adams to unite our City, not foment more division. His comments on asylum seekers being ‘excellent swimmers’ implies that because some immigrants had to swim or wade across water on their dangerous journeys to seek safety in the United States, that they would make good lifeguards,” Murad Awawdeh, President and CEO of the New York Immigration Coalition said in a statement.

“This comment is racist, and the Mayor should not be making light of the perilous and often life-threatening journeys people are forced to make to escape violence and persecution,” he added. “It’s demeaning and dehumanizing.”

‘EXCELLENT SWIMMERS’: DEM MAYOR FLOATS MIGRANTS AS SOLUTION FOR CITY’S LIFEGUARD SHORTAGE 

Awawdeh was reacting to comments Adams made Tuesday when he was asked at a press conference about a lifeguard shortage in the city as Memorial Day approaches.

He said the situation could be helped “If we had a migrant and asylum seeker plan that states those jobs that we are… in high demand we could expedite.”

“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,” he said.

“That just doesn’t make sense.”

He listed off other occupations, including food service workers and nurses, where the Big Apple could face shortages.

“We have all these eligible people waiting to work with the skills we need to fill the jobs, but we are unable to allow them to work because bureaucracy is in the way,” he said. “That just does not make sense.”

The comments drew surprise from conservatives as well as activists, with them viewing the comment as a gaffe. But Adams has repeatedly called for the expediting of work permits to allow those in the country claiming asylum to be able to work. 

The mayor’s office pushed back against the criticism in a statement on Wednesday.

DEM MAYOR FACES BACKLASH FOR CITY’S ‘HAPHAZARD’ MIGRANT POLICY: ‘CRUELTY’ 

“With more than 197,000 migrants who have come through our care since the spring of 2022, Mayor Adams has been clear that there is nothing more un-American than not allowing someone to work,” a city hall spokesperson said.

“The mayor has repeatedly pointed out that there are people in our shelter system right now who are qualified for vacant city jobs — in industries such as food service, construction, manufacturing, lifeguarding, and more — and yet, we cannot hire them because the federal government has not issued them work authorization and the right to work,” they 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.” 

His office also pointed to multiple instances this year where Adams has called for migrants to be given the ability to work — including as lifeguards.

“We need everything from lifeguards to workers in the racing industry to food service workers,” Adams said earlier this month on FOX5 “Good Day New York.” “It’s really ironic that when we need so many employees across the country, where states and cities are seeing a drop in population, I think that when people are paroled legally into the country, we should designate where they go based on the needs of the country and allow them to work there for three years, and then allow them to go anywhere in the country.”

Adams has also called for a national resettlement strategy and additional funding from the federal government.

Get the latest updates on the ongoing border crisis from the Fox News Digital immigration hub.

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