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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will give $33 million in college scholarships to DACA students

The donation comes as Congress and the White House continue warring over the future of the immigration policy.

An immigration activist holds a sign that reads, “I am a Dreamer. You can’t deport ideals. #DACA.” Drew Angerer / Getty
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie are making a $33 million scholarship grant to 1,000 students who came into the U.S. through DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy.

The donation was the largest ever for TheDream.US, a nonprofit scholarship program for so-called Dreamer students — those who came to the U.S. as minors and either entered on visa or stayed here illegally. The students receive a total of $33,000 in scholarship aid over four years to help pay the cost of tuition, fees and books at partnering low-cost colleges.

The donation comes as Congress and the White House continue warring over the future of DACA. Each side would like to authorize the program in a new law, but Republicans have demanded that any deal must also include new restrictions on immigration — including funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Senate leaders at one point yesterday evening thought they had brokered an early, bipartisan compromise, addressing both issues, but the White House seemed to suggest it doesn’t yet support their plan.

For Bezos, this is one of the biggest donations he has made, and it happens at a time when both he and Trump have occasionally traded barbs in the press and on social media over coverage by the Bezos-owned Washington Post.

The timing is also interesting because there is a renewed spotlight on the philanthropic activity of Bezos, which has been relatively modest compared to others like Bill Gates, after his net worth recently soared past $100 billion.

Last summer, Bezos took to Twitter to solicit ideas for giving that would have a near-term impact. It’s not clear if the idea for the scholarship grant came from the responses he received.

“My dad came to the U.S. when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan,” Jeff Bezos said in a press release. “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 — my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways.”

Additional reporting by Tony Romm.

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