WASHINGTON, D.C.: Last year's surgery on welfare drew plenty of criticism for its decreases in benefits for legal U.S. immigrants. Billionaire financier George Soros, an immigrant himself, called the bill "mean-spirited." Now the Hungarian-born philanthropist is taking matters into his own hands. Soros created the Emma Lazarus Fund last fall with $50 million to aid immigrants affected by the new law; on Thursday, after consideration of over 400 grant applications, the first round of awards will go to work. Over $11.8 million will go to 22 advocacy groups, including Hispanic, Asian, Catholic and Jewish organizations. The money will be used to help legal immigrants become U.S. citizens, to fund English classes, civics education, legal help and preparation for citizenship interviews. The Lazarus Fund is named after the poet whose words "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.