A topless woman wears body paint in Times Square, New York City, Aug. 18, 2015. (Photo: Kerry Picket/The Daily Caller)

Many Times Square Costumed And Topless Panhandlers Are Foreign Nationals

9:47 AM 08/19/2015

NEW YORK — The costumed and un-costumed panhandlers in Times Square that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is aggravated about are mainly foreign nationals, many of whom are in the country illegally, The Wall Street Journal first reported in 2011 and The New York Times later wrote in August 2014.

De Blasio told reporters Tuesday that the topless body-painted women who pose for photos in exchange for tips in Times Square should not be allowed to show themselves in such a manner in public. However, it is not illegal in New York City for a woman to be in public while exposing her breasts.

“I think it’s wrong. It’s wrong,” he said. “It’s just — look, as a progressive who believes in civil liberties and believes in our First Amendment, I understand the legal challenge here. But I don’t think that’s the end of the discussion. We are going to look for every appropriate way to regulate all activity that involves either begging, or asking people for a contribution based on, you know, the opportunity to take a picture, for example.”

He added, “We’re going to enforce the law to the fullest, with any and all agencies. I’m not satisfied that we have used every tool in our arsenal yet. And I don’t like the situation in Times Square, and we’re going to address it in a very aggressive manner.”

A city councilman’s bill to require street performers known for aggressive panhandling to be licensed and background checked stalled last year. New York residents and tourists alike became irritated with the street performers as stories surfaced about harassment and physical conflicts related to some costumed performers.

In 2014, a man playing Spiderman was convicted of harassing a tourist, the Journal reported, while anther street performer portraying Woody from “Toy Story” was arrested for groping women in Times Square. A year earlier, a man playing Cookie Monster was arrested and charged after he shoved a child to the ground, when his mother would not tip him after her son posed in a picture with him. In 2012 a man dressed as Elmo went on an anti-Semitic tirade.

“Most of the performers are immigrants and many of them are undocumented, living hand-to-mouth while trying to negotiate a fraught relationship with the police and support families in the United States and in their home countries,”the Times reported last year.

The Daily Caller spoke to a topless woman in Times Square in the midst of receiving the body paint by a man brushing stars and stripes on her flesh. The woman told TheDC her name is Paola.

She says she is 23 years old and originally from Venezuela. Paola told another reporter she has been in New York for two years but did not specify if she has been in the U.S. for a longer period of time.

It is unclear what Paola’s immigration status is. She believes showing her painted breasts to the New York public is an art form, and despite concern that there are small children around, Paola claims a number of parents will allow their children to pose with her for a picture.

Mayor de Blasio could not tell reporters an exact timeline as to when enforcement would change and that getting around the First Amendment would be a difficult task on this particular issue.

“We have a group of agencies, including obviously NYPD, including consumer affairs, and others that are working right now on a different vision on how to approach Times Square. And you will see changes — some of them starting quite soon,” he said.

De Blasio appears to have no plans to address the immigration issue surrounding the work status of some of the performers. When asked by TheDC about the tax burden New Yorkers carry to provide for the cost of services for illegal immigrants, he replied, “It’s our obligation to serve people. And this is a city of immigrants — it always has been a city of immigrants — and for people who are here, we will provide them with respect.”

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