The Department of Homeland Security desperately needs a proofreader

“We are building wall.”
“We are building wall.”
Image: Reuters/Leah Millis
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an odd memo yesterday (Dec. 12). Titled “Walls Work,” the document describes small construction projects along the US-Mexico border, and plans for further construction in 2019.

Donald Trump is currently struggling to fulfill his signature 2016 campaign promise of a “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border. To begin building it, the US president has requested $5 billion from Congress, up from $1.3 billion currently allocated; he also recently threatened to shut down the government if Congress members don’t vote in favor of his request.

Likely designed to rally support around the project, the DHS memo includes photos of barriers erected along the border in 2018, and timelines for building more. It explains what the $5 billion funding would cover, and claims that recently constructed wall segments have already deterred would-be migrants. However, the memo itself appeared hastily dashed together, with an abundance of grammatical errors undermining its message.

“DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly,” the memo begins. But what is “building wall”? Is it a new phrase in the style of “breaking bread” or “passing gas”?

There are, of course, several possible explanations: Perhaps the president signed an executive order overnight banning articles. Maybe Wall is the yet-unveiled actual name of the border wall. Or maybe this memo was written by a new generation of robot writers—a not unexpected development in the future of AI-powered work.

Thankfully, human writers can still pivot to good, old-fashioned proofreading:


DHS is committed to building a wall on the southern border and building wall it quickly. We are not replacing a short, outdated and ineffective wall with a similar wall.  Instead, under this President we are building a wall that is 30 feet high.

FACT: Prior to President Trump taking office, we have never built a wall that high.