Tourists were met with disappointment Saturday as they arrived in New York City to find the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were closed as part of the government shutdown.
“If they knew it was being shut down, they should have told us,” Amparo Mendez, 17, told Reuters news.
Mendez, an Argentine exchange student, and a friend bought tickets online last week to see the statue and Ellis Island. The two were standing together near Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan when they got the news.
“We came with the notion to see the Statue of Liberty, and it’s not the same to see it from here,” said Mendez's friend, Brunella Pettoroso, 16.
Neither of them knew about the government shutdown, but when it was explained to them, Mendez rolled her eyes, Reuters reported.
The Statue of Liberty, a long-standing symbol of democracy and immigration, was one of the first casualties of a budget stalemate heavily centered around Dreamers, young, undocumented U.S. residents who came to this country as children with their parents.
On Friday, the National Park Service announced the historic site would close to visitors if Congress failed to meet its midnight deadline to approve a spending plan. The missed deadline could trigger other consequences if Congress remains deadlocked on Monday, according to published reports.
Another tourist, Dallas Kay, 26, a restaurant worker from Bend, Oregon, had also hoped to see the Statue of Liberty, Reuters reported.
“These monuments and parks belong to the people,” he told Reuters. “Them getting shut down is a travesty.”
Has anything like this happened before?
The Obama administration was criticized for temporarily closing National Park Service properties during a government shutdown over a budget impasse in 2013. Parks employees were also temporarily furloughed.
The National Park Service had set up barricades at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., and it placed traffic cones along highway viewing areas near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The moves were criticized as unnecessary punishment for sight-seers who had nothing to do with lawmakers missing deadlines to approve a budget.
According to an estimate by Moody's Analytics, the government shutdown in 2013 lasted 16 days and cost an estimated $20 billion.