Marleine Bastien, on the Frontlines of Immigration Reform

Marleine Bastien, born in rural Pont-Benoit, Haiti, is a champion of immigrant rights. Her calling in life came early; when at the tender age of eight, she was already ministering to underfed and cast-off children at a Deschapelles medical facility. Her father, a rice and mango grower, was her biggest influence, a self-taught medic, who provided medical treatment to suffering village people.


Marleine Bastien did more than provide food aid and a comforting presence; she also helped them become literate. The biggest reward for her was when a child, who was so frail they couldn't manage a smile, beamed at her.

In 1983, she came to Florida and performed the same services at the Haitian Refugee Center. Simultaneously, she studied immigration law, while doing paralegal work. She used the knowledge to help arriving immigrants. Eventually Bastien established Haitian Women of Miami (HWM) to advocate, educate, and empower Haitian women as a group.

Marleine Bastien meets the intimidating and complicated challenges of running HWM with a determined spirit. Her work in the field of women's rights and immigration has earned her recognition from the public. She has guested on prominent TV shows like Oprah and networks such as CNN. In 2001, she received the Woman of the Year tribute from Ms. Magazine.

Bastien shares her deep disappointment the current crop of politicians is avoiding passing legislation on immigration reform. She calls them irresponsible and thoughtless. But she also asserts, "We are soldiers for human rights."

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Read more: immigration, Social Movement, Social Justice, Advocate, Illegal Immigration, Marleine Bastien, Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Pont-Benoit, immigration

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