Feature: Tourists rejoice as Statue of Liberty reopens amid U.S. gov't shutdown

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-23 06:45:02|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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By Xinhua writers Yang Shilong, Zhang Mocheng

NEW YORK, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Huddled masses of tourists rejoiced as the Statue of Liberty reopened Monday after the U.S. federal government shutdown entered its third day.

"We are lucky enough to come here today," Ben Foster from Australia told Xinhua Monday morning before boarding ferries bound for the prime destination of the New York City.

"It's sad it was closed over the weekend. I booked the tickets six months ago. I would be very much disappointed if it is closed."

A young lady surnamed Brown from Newcastle, England, agreed.

She and her friends came to visit Lady Liberty on Sunday and was told it was shut down for federal reasons.

"Tomorrow is our last day here, so if we don't get the chance to see it, we would be very disappointed," Brown said.

"It represents freedom, so it should be open for everyone who wants to visit it," added Jessica from Germany.

The Statue of Liberty was among the national monuments and parks that closed after Congress failed Friday night to pass legislation to keep the federal government funded.

All non-essential federal services have since been halted and employees have been furloughed while Republicans and Democrats debate the fate of "Dreamers" -- 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Rafael Abreu, Director of Sales and Marketing of Statue Cruises, was very grateful to New York State governor Andrew Cuomo for his bail out of the city's most iconic landmark.

"Many of our visitors were frustrated. Many people don't make the connection between the government and the Statue of Liberty," Abreu told local reporters.

Cuomo announced Sunday the state would cover the 65,000-dollar-a-day tab to pay federal employees who operate Liberty Island.

"It's going to be open and running as normal," Cuomo said at a news conference in a lower Manhattan park overlooking the statue Sunday. "We will pay to keep the Statue of Liberty open every day."

The state of Arizona has similarly said it will ensure the Grand Canyon remains open - whether the federal government reopens or not.

The U.S. governors have taken actions during previous shutdowns. Cuomo also kept the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open in the last government shutdown, in October 2013, which lasted for 16 days and about 850,000 federal employees were furloughed.

The current government funding expired on Friday midnight as the Senate failed to advance a stopgap spending bill, which had passed the House of Representatives and would fund the government through Feb. 16.

Democrats had hoped that they could use the government spending as leverage to pass an immigration bill, while Republicans and the Trump administration insisted that they would not negotiate on immigration until Democrats give them enough votes to reopen the government.