Free on-Island legal advice for immigrants

The Island Wide Youth Collaborative moved into its new building last year. — Cathryn McCann

The Island Wide Youth Collaborative (IWYC), housed at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, has formed a liaison with the Immigration Resource Center of the Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and the Islands, located in Hyannis. The collaboration will bring expert legal advice, one day a month, to those on-Island needing help with immigration issues. The Immigration Resource Center was added to the Hyannis office last summer.

Jenn Chang, a family support worker at the IWYC, said that her group had discovered the Immigration Resource Center in Hyannis. “We were using them so often,” she said in a recent phone conversation with The Times, “that we invited them to come down here. We said, ‘We’ll provide the space’ and we’re making the service available to the general public, not just our clients.”

Ms. Chang said that the Brazilian population has been increasing for the past 20, years and may now constitute one-third of the permanent population. This estimate is backed up by a 2009 article by Daniela Gerson in the Financial Times (August 14, 2009, “How migration transformed Martha’s Vineyard”), which identified one Lyndon Johnson Pereira as the first Brazilian on the Island in 1986.* Twenty-three years later, Ms. Gerson wrote, there were an estimated 3,000 Brazilians on the Island — perhaps 70 percent of them illegal immigrants — approximately one-fifth of the population of Martha’s Vineyard at the time.

The Immigration Resource Center will be providing free assistance for all immigration questions on the first Friday of every month at Island Wide Youth Collaborative at Community Services, 111 Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. An immigration attorney will be at the office from 9 am to 3 pm to answer questions, provide assistance with forms, and give advice. For more information or to make an appointment, call 508-693-7900, ext. 400.

*Editor’s note: A reader informs that the first Brazilian family of which she is aware moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1979.