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Steve Jobs' widow, tech leaders help undocumented students

March 7, 2012 |  8:05 am

In the absence of Dream Act legislation, a group of Silicon Valley technology leaders is helping undocumented students attend college, prepare for jobs and, when possible, find ways to legalize their status.

The Dream Act would create a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who are college students and military service members.

Palm Pilot inventor Jeff Hawkins described the tech group as a loose coalition. It includes the family foundations of Mark Leslie, founding chairman and chief executive of the former Veritas Software Corp., and Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel Corp.

Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple's Steve Jobs, has also helped promote access for undocumented students through organizations and personal advocacy.

Most of the group's work and donations are benefiting Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), which provides scholarships, internships, legal assistance and other programs for undocumented students.

"We have these kids who grew up here, went to school here. They're American kids, they have no other home and essentially we're abandoning them," said Hawkins. "They have a hard time getting an education and they have no prospects for work."

E4FC was started in 2006 with about $5,000 in donations, said Executive Director Katharine Gin. At the time, she said, the group had hoped to provide basic information and scholarship money. Until last year, many of its members believed legislation to legalize students was imminent.

The organization now has an operating budget of $600,000, a significant portion of which comes from a handful of Silicon Valley donors, Gin said.

"A lot of us were telling these students: 'Just get through college and we'll worry about the rest later,'" Gin said. "Now people are trying to figure out what we can do, trying to figure out something meaningful if we can't trust that immigration reform is going to happen."


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Photo: A coalition of Silicon Valley technology leaders is trying to find ways to aid students in the absence of legislation such as the national Dream Act, which would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are college students and military service members. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times