OBAMA'S VACATION

The Vineyard's Immigrant Backbone

As the Obamas head to Martha's Vineyard to enjoy a bit of leisure time, they may notice that even on the posh island retreat the issues surrounding the immigration debate are on full display. An excellent feature in the Financial Times highlights the strong Brazilian influence on Martha's Vineyard, which began in the 1980s. There are roughly 3,000 Brazilians—both legal and illegal—who fill the need for hard labor on the island. Martha's Vineyard, known for big-name visitors such as Spike Lee, the Kennedys, and the Clintons, also features immigrant communities that amount to a "parallel society"—a phenomenon seen throughout the U.S. The opportunity that awaits Brazilian immigrants on the island is not without its consequences. Many locals who stay on the Vineyard year-round resent the Brazilians who will work for less. "It’s a microcosm of the whole situation," one local said. "Here Brazilians are the target group, just like in California it’s Mexicans."