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Facebook billionaire donates $5 million to help undocumented immigrants pay for college

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, had donated $5 million to a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants.

Zuckerberg announced his donation to the fund, called TheDream.US, on his personal Facebook page (which makes sense, since he's the CEO of the company).

“Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants are part of our communities and attend school legally in the United States,” Zuckerberg said in his post. “Many of them moved to America early in their lives and can’t remember living anywhere else. They want to remain in the country they love and be a part of America’s future. But without documentation, it’s often a struggle to get a college education, and they don’t have access to any kind of federal aid.”

According to Zuckerberg, his money will be used to create “college scholarship programs for more than 400 young immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next five years.”

As The Huffington Post reports, TheDream.US only provides scholarships to undocumented immigrants who are eligible to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, also known as DACA. The DACA was put into place by the Obama administration in June 2012.

“This is just a small step towards creating immigration and education solutions that help our community and country make progress,” Zuckerberg said in his announcement.

Like many figures in Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg has been vocal in the past about his stance on immigration reform. For example, in 2014, he helped found FWD, a lobbyist group that hopes to “mobilize the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century.” Immigration reform is a major emphasis of the group, according to its website, because “America’s broken system prevents far too many talented immigrants from fully contributing to our communities and our economy.”

As MarketWatch’s Russ Britt wrote in 2013, there are also very specific reasons the tech giants in Silicon Valley are pushing hard to reform immigration.

“Ultimately, reformists say, the U.S. is missing out on a chance to offset the jobs that have been exported overseas for years via factory migration,” Britt said. Companies that are growing at rapid paces, he argued, are on the hunt for new workers, and they believe the clogged immigration system is a major barrier to much-needed workers.

“For some companies, they need as much help as they can get and they aren’t picky about workers’ origin,” he said.

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JJ Feinauer is a writer for Deseret News National. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.