Marleine has tirelessly worked on many policy initiatives for the Haitian community and immigrants in her work at FANM, including, but not limited to the renewal and expansion of TPS; Comprehensive Immigration Reform—under her leadership, she has organized forums, rallies and demonstrations in South Florida to urge the Obama administration to stop deportations for all immigrants who qualify under Comprehensive Immigration Reform; Haitian Family Reunification Parole; advocating and organizing to stop the deportation of mentally ill clients, as well as counseling parents who suffer from depression and stress syndromes as a result of the crisis of dealing with the detention and imminent deportation of their children; working on initiatives to reduce domestic violence by promoting the utilization of a human rights framework; and continuing advocacy on stopping deportations to Haiti since the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
Through her energy and commitment, Marleine has become the leading human rights advocate in South Florida and an important human rights advocate in Haiti. When celebrating its 100 years, the Miami Herald featured Ms. Bastien as someone who has made a great impact in the community defending the basic human rights of refugees and immigrants worldwide.
Marleine Bastien, a licensed clinical social worker and graduate of Miami-Dade Community College and Florida International University, is the founder and Executive Director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. (Haitian Women of Miami—FANM), an important group that has provided desperately needed assistance not only to Haitian women and their families, but to the community at large. Under Bastien’s leadership, FANM has shown a unique ability to provide an array of social services while also organizing around issues such as immigration, housing, health access, education reform, gender equality, and human rights. Bastien is the Chair of the Florida Immigration coalition and Vice-Chair of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. Over the course of 30 years, Bastien has worked on many important campaigns, including: The Haitian Immigration Refugee Fairness Act of 1998, Temporary Protected Status, The Dream Act, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Living Wage and Human Rights Ordinance, and the Children’s Trust (treasurer and spokesperson for the Black Community with Congresswoman Carrie Meek).
I was born in Haiti. While growing up there, I had a keen sense of the abuses, persecution, and lack of protection for the population, especially women and children who were the most vulnerable under the Duvalier dictatorship. I can still see in my mind’s eyes how women were beaten by Tonton Macoutes with a big “baton” (Club) for not being able to pay expensive taxes —-They could not pay because they have not sold enough to afford the taxes….I’ve always considered the U.S. the Champion of Human Rights and I dreamed of coming here. I learned English while in Haiti and I studied Martin Luther King’s speeches. When I arrived here in 1981 and visited Krome, my life changed forever. Haitian refugees were placed in a big compound: men, women, and children and deported for the most part , in complete denial of their basic rights of due process. I started volunteering at the Haitian Refugee Center two days after arriving. I was hired as a paralegal a few months later. My goal was to go to Chicago, but once I joined the struggle for freedom and equal treatment for Haitian refugees, I could not leave. Now, I organize and fight for immigrants’ rights in general.
Human rights, freedom and justice.
FANM/Haitian Women of Miami has already led and won the following campaigns in addition to providing comprehensive services to 5,000 family members yearly in mental health, health access, affordable housing, immigration and citizenship services: The Haitian Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, Temporary Protected Status (2010), Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (2015), Little Haiti Campaign (2016), Little Farm Mobile Home Campaigns (2016). Now, we are leading the fight for Temporary Status Renewal, and Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Immigrants contributed to making the United State the powerful nation that it is today. They invest in building the social, political, and economic fabric of this nation. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I will continue to fight for policies that protect not only immigrants, but all of our rights. In order to have the moral authority to dictate other nations their conduite/behavior, we must do better to protect human rights here in the U.S. We must be the change that we want to see in the world.