USDA Receives Twitter Backlash For Joke About Issuing Santa Permit To Enter U.S.

Many said the joke was tone-deaf, given the migrant children detained at the U.S. southern border.

In a somewhat poor attempt to get into the Christmas spirit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday it had issued a permit for Santa Claus to enter the country Tuesday night in order to deliver his gifts to children.

“BREAKING: Santa and his 9 reindeer have been issued a permit to enter the U.S. on #ChristmasEve, thus ensuring children across the country will wake up #Christmas morning filled with joy & spirit of the season,” the USDA tweeted, including a link to its full press release about the permit.

The press release included disease testing for Santa’s reindeer (which included Rudolph testing positive for “red nose syndrome”), as well as measures to prevent communicable diseases. The USDA designated Santa a “broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited.”

“The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2019 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2019, through or over any U.S. border port,” the press release said.

The release also included a statement from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue saying the agency wanted to ensure it was not “hindering” Santa’s work of spreading Christmas cheer.

“Ease of access into the United States for Mr. Claus and his nine reindeer will ensure that children all over the country ― including my own fourteen grandchildren ― will wake up on Christmas morning with joy and filled with the spirit of the season,” Perdue said in the release. “USDA issued this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees to help ensure a smooth trip on Christmas Eve night.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection later said that it had also cleared “Santa, his reindeer and all of the presents ... for entry into the United States!”

Both USDA and CBP immediately received backlash on Twitter, with many deeming the Christmas message tone-deaf when migrants ― many of them children ― remain detained in inhumane conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border.

This story has been updated with CBP’s tweet.