Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, donated $33 million to fund 1,000 scholarships for Dreamers, immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
The money will go to TheDream.US, the largest scholarship program for Dreamers. Each student receives $33,000 over four years to pay for college tuition, fees and books, the organization said. More than 2,500 students are enrolled in college with the help of the scholarships.
In September, President Trump moved to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, putting 700,000 young immigrants at risk of deportation. Every two years, Dreamers could renew their DACA status and obtain work permits if they met certain requirements.
Dreamers have been at the center of the immigration debate, putting pressure on Congress to come up with a better legislative solution. On Jan. 9, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked Trump’s decision to end the DACA program.
DACA recipients are ineligible for federal financial aid and are ineligible for state financial aid in 44 states. In more than 15 states, they are required to pay out-of-state or international tuition rates, according to TheDream.US.
Bezos compared Dreamers to his father, who in the early 1960s was one of thousands of minors who immigrated to the United States from Cuba.
“With a lot of grit and determination — and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware — my dad became an outstanding citizen and he continues to give back to the country he feels blessed him in so many ways,” Bezos said in a statement.
The donation is the largest given to TheDream.US, which was founded in 2013 by the former owner of the Washington Post, Don Graham. Bezos bought the Post after talks with Graham in 2013.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative have also supported TheDream.US.