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Wethersfield Man Walks In Support Of Undocumented Immigrants

May 1, 2018

Until there’s a resolution on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA -- program, Alan Dornan of Wethersfield said he’ll protest and walk the streets in support of Dreamers -- those brought to the United States as children.

Dornan, 78, has had scoliosis since he was a kid. And now, he’s fighting spinal stenosis. But since January, he’s walked about two miles up and down the road from his house on Goff Street to send a message to the United States Congress.

“I stole a phrase from Star Wars—‘Do or do not. There is no try,’” Dornan said. “And I do.”

On the fifth day of his protest, he started carrying a sign at his wife’s suggestion -- ‘I walk for a path to citizenship for 800,000 Dreamers.’

For 93 days, he walked alone. But that all changed on the last Saturday in April when 25 others joined him.

“I’ll continue to walk indefinitely for the passing of a Dream Act,” Dornan said. “And I have met many, many Dreamers now. I’m really glad to feel more a part, more a fellow walker with the Dreamers and all undocumented immigrants.”

After three straight years of disappointment, undocumented immigrant students in Connecticut were granted a victory last week when a bill was signed into law that gave them access to financial aid. Dornan was at the state capitol the day that bill passed. He was there with Camila Bortoletto. Camila and her sister Carolina came to the U.S. from Brazil. They run CT Students For A Dream — a group that’s been lobbying for this kind of bill for years.

“It’s really great that Connecticut is taking steps to be more supportive of immigrant students and immigrant youth,” Camila Bortoletto said. “But we know that on the national level, things are much more tricky and dire, so that’s why we are going to keep fighting.”

She returned the favor when she showed up and walked in support of Dornan’s protest.

“We feel like we’re sacrificing a lot to be in this fight,” Bortoletto said. “But it shows that American citizens are also willing to sacrifice a lot and really put in the work and put in the effort to bring awareness and attention to this.”

Alan Dornan displays his sign to oncoming traffic on Goff Street in Wethersfield.
Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

When he walks, every now and then, back pain forces Dornan to take a quick break. On the day he didn’t walk alone, he used every break to talk about the people who’ve inspired him. The most important one in Dornan’s life is his son. Aaron Dornan died in a car accident on his way home from New Hampshire 20 years ago.

“And I feel that little — excuse the word, I won’t say it -- little ‘b’ -- pushing me from behind every day, pushing me and saying, ‘Don’t you dare stop,’” Dornan said.

The spot where he stopped is where the sidewalk ends on Goff Road. That tells Dornan it’s time to turn around and walk home.