Anywhere you look, it's clear that New York City owes more to the energy, creativity, and spirit of immigrants than any other city in the country - and probably the world. Throughout our history, the City has been repeatedly redefined and reinvigorated by the hard work and ideas of immigrants.
Immigrants have come here, and continue to come here, from all different parts of the world with different religious beliefs, backgrounds, and professional aspirations. But they share the basic desire to build a better life for themselves and their children, and a fundamental adherence to the principles of responsibility and opportunity that made America, and New York, great in the first place.
We've tried to honor this legacy by contributing our voice to the national conversation on immigration. We know that immigrants are assets, not liabilities, to our economy, culture and society. In fact, a major new study released by the National Immigration Forum and the Cato Institute stated that, over the course of a lifetime, a typical immigrant and his or her children pay at least $80,000 more in taxes than they will collect in local, state and federal government benefits. Last year, immigrants paid roughly $133 billion in total taxes.
These are the kinds of facts that we've urged our federal legislators to understand over the last two years. And our City's advocacy has been a success. Many - but not all - of the unfair provisions of the federal anti-immigrant legislation passed by the Congress and signed by the President in 1996 have been altered, and benefits appropriately restored to the legal immigrants who deserve them.
This Monday, to help advance and reaffirm the legacy of immigration that has literally built our great city, I announced the opening of the Federal Visa Lottery, which annually gives 55,000 people around the country the opportunity to become permanent residents. New York City wants its immigrants - its future residents and citizens - to be on top of this process from the start. That means understanding that despite what anyone says, there's no way to improve your chances of getting permanent resident status. This is a free, easy, and fair process.
That's why our Department of Consumer Affairs and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs are reaching out to ensure that our immigrants get accurate, up-to-date information on the Visa Lottery process. It's a simple procedure that anyone can complete on their own. And in the end, it's another important way to strengthen the process of immigration, which is the lifeblood of America's past, present, and future.