Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced Friday that they will donate $33 million to help young undocumented immigrants who had obtained DACA status to pay for college.
Bezos, whose father came to the U.S. from Cuba, said the donation will help fund the college tuition of a thousand young immigrants who are now pursing higher education.
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“My dad came to the U.S. when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan,” Bezos said in a press release, referring to an early 1960s program by the Roman Catholic Church and the U.S. government that brought 14,000 children from Cuba without their parents following Fidel Castro's communist takeover.
“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 Delaware — my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today’s dreamers by funding these scholarships,” stated Bezos.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, the Obama-era program that allowed young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country.
Bezos' donation comes as immigrants with DACA are feeling heightened anxiety and insecurity over losing their permission to stay in the U.S. and work. President Donald Trump ended the DACA program that gave them temporary protections. Congress has been trying to negotiate a solution, but Republicans and Democrats are having trouble reaching an agreement.
The donation grant will be given to the nonprofit TheDream.US, which is the nation's largest scholarship program for "Dreamers" in the country. The nonprofit partners with more than 70 low-cost colleges in 15 states, and helps DACA recipients with financial aid, books and more. Right now there are about 800,00 Dreamers who are living with DACA status in the U.S.