Jamaicans and other foreign workers have long powered the summer economy in the upscale tourist haven of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. This year, a scarcity of the H-2B visas used to bring foreign seasonal workers to the U.S. has affected many resorts and other businesses that depend on such workers, including Alaskan fisheries.
As President Donald Trump presses to restrict immigration, Martha’s Vineyard serves as a small-scale experiment in what can happen when labor markets that depend on foreign workers no longer have access to as many of them. This summer, businesses on the island managed to muddle through.
Some employers recruited foreign workers through other means. Others say the crunch has pushed them to try harder to hire Americans—something opponents of the H-2B visa program favor. However, employers and other residents say filling temporary jobs with local workers is hard because people who live on the island full time want year-round employment.