Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, announced Friday that he is donating $ 33 million to a scholarship fund for young “dreamers,” immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. The donation comes amid fresh pressures from business leaders on the Capitol Hill The White House and some GOP lawmakers rejected a bipartisan party on Thursday – the same day President Donald Trump made inflammatory remarks about people from developing countries. 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.
The money will help fund 1,000 college scholarships and is the largest donation yet to a fund by Donald Graham, the publisher of The Post who sold the company to Bezos in 2013. Graham launched TheDream.US with Henry Muñoz III, the finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, and Carlos Gutierrez, who served under George W. Bush. In a statement announcing the donation, Bezos cited the story of his adopted father, who left Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan. “He said in this country alone and unable to speak English,” Bezos said in a statement. “With a lot of grit and determination – and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware – my dad has become an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels in many ways. MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today’s Dreamers by funding these scholarships. ” The donation “is a shot in the arm for a student at a time when they are questioning whether they should be in the United States at all,” said Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US . “We would invite anyone who questions the value of Dreamers to please meet some of our students.” The group previously received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropy, Inter-American Development Bank, Patty Stonesifer and Michael Kinsley, among others. Trump plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March unless Congress replaces it. The Obama-era program provides temporary legal protections to roughly 700,000 dreamers. Democrats, under intense pressure from immigrant advocates, are trying to use their leverage to force a long-term immigration deal as part of talks to keep the government open beyond a Jan. 19 spending deadline.
In a bid to bolster the negotiations, more than 100 corporate leaders this week co-signed a letter to Congress calling for immediate legal relief to dreamers. The corporate leaders said, “The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country.” Bezos co-signed the letter along with tech titans Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple and top leaders from General Motors, AT & T, the Gap, Target, Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, Warby Parker, Uber, Lyft and others. Business leaders could pay dividends in the closing days of the high-stakes Bezos is a frequent target of Trump, who has accused the businessman of purchasing The Post to advance his business interests. In late December, the president called for the U.S. Amazon.com in a deal that he said disadvantages the federal agency. Bezos did not respond to Trump’s comments, but Amazon has defended its arrangement with USPS, noting that the federal postal regulators consider the agreement profitable for the mail service. Donations to higher education are a frequent way to the world’s wealthiest individuals to spread their wealth. Bill and Melinda Gates, through their Gates Foundation, have pledged $ 1 billion over 20 years to their Millennium Scholars program. Vedanta University in India is the largest recipient of the $ 1 billion endowment established by the Anil Agarwal Foundation, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education.