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Reddit co-founder pens moving, personal letter about Trump’s immigration ban

Alexis Ohanian is the descendant of German and Armenian immigrants.


Christina Bonnington


Posted on Jan 31, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 2:29 am CDT

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian shared a very personal open letter with the Reddit community on Monday. After returning to the U.S. following a two-week trip abroad, Ohanian, the child and great grandchild of immigrants, felt compared to share his story, along with a renewed call to action for redditors of all kind, color, and creed.

“President Trump’s recent executive order is not only potentially unconstitutional, but deeply un-American,” Ohanian writes. He then talks about the concept of an “unfair advantage” in the tech startup world, and how immigration relates to that idea: “Welcoming immigrants and refugees has been our country’s unfair advantage, and coming from an immigrant family has been mine as an entrepreneur.”

Ohanian’s father is an undocumented German immigrant, while his great grandparents were refugees who survived the Armenian genocide. This heritage, and his family’s courage, has been a source of pride for Ohanian. His grandfather, one of Ohanian’s personal heroes, even did an AMA for Reddit two years ago, sharing thoughts on Armenian culture, Social Security, and finance, among other topics. 

After giving an overview of his family history, Ohanian begins his call to arms for readers. 

“Right now, Lady Liberty’s lamp is dimming, which is why it’s more important than ever that we speak out and show up to support all those for whom it shines—past, present, and future,” Ohanian writes. He asks that redditors act however they see fit, whether that be marching, calling representatives in Washington, or regularly voting in elections. 

After that, numerous redditors chimed in with their own family’s stories of immigration, sharing the inspirational and emotional journeys of Bosnian, German, and South American immigrants, among others. If you need a read that will renew your faith in who Americans really are and what we truly stand for, this is for you. 

You can read the full letter here

Correction 9:23am CT, Feb. 1: An earlier version of this article misstated Ohanian’s role at Reddit. He is a co-founder of the site.

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*First Published: Jan 31, 2017, 2:52 pm CST