Factbox-Why Martha's Vineyard is center stage in U.S. immigration fight

·2 min read
Venezuelan migrants arrive at Martha’s Vineyard

(Reuters) - Martha's Vineyard is a largely liberal island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, frequented by some of America's richest and most powerful people. Now it has taken center stage in the U.S. political fight over immigration.

On Wednesday, Republicans flew a group of migrants to this favored vacation spot of Democratic presidents. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate, said he was behind it.

Here are some facts about Martha's Vineyard:

* Christina Pushaw, a DeSantis spokesperson, posted a photo on Twitter showing a property owned by Democratic former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle with the caption "This bad boy can fit so many illegal immigrants in it."

* The Obamas' mansion with seven bedrooms and 8.5 baths cost $11.75 million in 2019.

* The island also provided a getaway for Democratic former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.

* The island is most famously associated with the Kennedy family. Former president John F. Kennedy vacationed there and in the 1970s his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, bought the 350-acre Red Gate Farm.

* John F. Kennedy Jr. died with his wife and sister-in-law in 1999 when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Atlantic off Martha's Vineyard, not far from Hyannis Port.

* In 1969 Senator Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge connecting the tiny island of Chappaquiddick to Martha's Vineyard, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.

* Island residents are well acquainted with U.S. Secret Service motorcades, helicopters buzzing overhead for security and resulting traffic jams.

* The island's population has a liberal bent and has supported efforts to curb climate change on the island, which could face rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes.

* Prized for its privacy, the island is only reachable by plane or ferry. It has also been a hideaway for talk show host David Letterman, actor Meg Ryan and director Spike Lee.

* Only 20 miles (32 km) long, the island boasts five golf courses, popular with both its year-round population of 17,000 and the 50,000 to 100,000 summer tourists, according to the Martha's Vineyard Commission.

* While the commission found 88% of residents were white, the island since the 1800s has been a renowned summer getaway for Black families.

* Homes can cost several millions of dollars, with the median home sale on the island over $1 million in 2020, according to weekly publication the Martha's Vineyard Times.

* There are no vineyards on Martha's Vineyard. The island got its name from the vine-like growth along the coast.

* For more than 200 years, it was home to one of the largest deaf communities in the country with islanders creating their own sign language.

(Compiled by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Howard Goller)