Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Friday that he would give $33 million in scholarship money to undocumented students who are in the United States under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the policy at the center of a roiling immigration battle between the Trump administration and Democrats.
Bezos, who is the wealthiest person in the world, and his wife, MacKenzie, will be donating the sum to TheDream.US, a scholarship program that has awarded more than 1,700 immigrants more than $19 million in financial assistance since it launched in 2014.
"My dad came to the USA when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Ban", Bezos said in a statement.
"He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English". With a lot of grit and determination - and the help of some remarkable organizations in DE - my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. As of now, 2,850 students are enrolled in college through this program. We would invite anyone who questions the value of Dreamers to please come meet some of our students.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted the federal court system as "broken and unfair" after a judge blocked his administration's move to end the DACA program. Almost 3,000 undocumented students are enrolled today through TheDream.US.
The students will be eligible to attend one of 76 colleges and universities in 15 states that partner with the scholarship fund.
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Dreamers, 800,000 of whom have received DACA status since 2012, face a variety of obstacles to college attendance.
Dreamers are now ineligible for federal grants and loans and receive no state tuition aid in 44 states. They also must pay out-of-state or global tuition, which often more than three times in-state tuition in more than 15 states. The term "Dreamers" refers to people who were brought into the United States illegally as children.
That Tweet started to bear fruit today with the announcement of a $33-million contribution to TheDream.US from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos.
Bezos, who overtook Bill Gates a year ago to become the world's richest man, has been openly urging the government to reauthorize the DACA program. They live in Seattle and have four children.
Other donors to TheDream.US include Bezos' parents Miguel and Jackie, Pierre Omidyar, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Foundations, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
TheDream.US is co-founded by Don Graham, Henry Munoz and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.