Ellis Island was the first place many hopeful immigrants saw upon arrival on US shores, the repository for all their dreams.
"We can get past this manufactured crisis and get on to a host of serious issues before us that require thoughtful bipartisan negotiations."Senate Majority Leader
Now one of New York's most popular tourist destinations, it has been shut down over a dispute in Congress about today's "dreamers", the children of illegal immigrants.
Democratic Senators are so exercised about their fate that they have been refusing to vote for new temporary Government funding measures until a deal on the dreamers has been reached, plunging the US Government into total shutdown (dubbed the #SchumerShutdown by the Republicans). However, the Democrats claim that they are ready to compromise, and that it is Donald Trump's failure to do so that has brought the country to a standstill (the #TrumpShutdown).
What is all the fuss about?
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a policy passed by the Obama administration in 2012. It makes "dreamers", the children of illegal US immigrants, eligible for work permits, and to be granted renewable two-year deferrals of any action on deportation. Obama tried to introduce the measure through legislation, called the Dreamer Act, but when this failed he resorted to Executive Order.
President Trump rescinded DACA in 2017, saying that he was transferring the problem to Congress, so that it could find a more enduring, legislative, solution to an issue that has attracted widespread public sympathy.
Republicans and Democrats have since repeatedly failed to compromise on immigration, however, leaving dreamers without a solution, and leading to the current crisis.
Up to the wire
As the Government shutdown enters its third day, (Republican) Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has offered a tiny concession in the form of a promise that the Senate would have an immigration deal to "consider" in February if Democrats agreed a funding package that would last until 8 February.
He expressed his frustration with the stand-off, saying:
"All this was totally unnecessary. There is a broad consensus, on both sides of the aisle, that DACA and other issues related to illegal immigration require a compromise solution. .....Bipartisan, bicameral negotiations have been underway for months. But they can go nowhere until Senate Democrats realize that the extreme path their Leader has charted leads them nowhere."
It remains to be seen whether Democrats will insist on a more concrete deal before shifting their stance, with (Democrat) Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, blaming the shutdown squarely on the President:
"Americans know why the dysfunction is occurring - a dysfunctional president. Hence, we are in a Trump shutdown. And party leaders who won't act without him. It has created the chaos and the gridlock we find ourselves in today."