At long last, immigration activists can properly claim that through its enforcement policies, the federal government is “breaking up families.” This allegation, a purposeful distortion, is a preferred arguing point the pro-immigration lobby offers to make its case against removing illegal immigrants from the interior.

The disingenuous “breaking up families” assertion may soon have at least a smattering of validity, but for a legitimate reason. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly recently said that he’s considering separating illegal immigrant Central American mothers from their children when they’re caught crossing the Southwest border.

Despite the outcries of immigrants’ rights advocates who want the migrants treated as legal refugees, Kelly offered his reason for the proposed dramatic policy change:

“I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States.”

Those who have made the perilous trip north via Mexico from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador report that they’ve routinely been beaten, robbed and raped.

In its story about Kelly’s contemplated overhaul, The Washington Times wrote that some women begin birth control before setting out to avoid getting pregnant from the rapes they anticipate once their trip begins.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, the government initially placed the unlawful Central Americans in detention centers. But when the federal courts intervened, the aliens were released into a sponsor’s custody and given an immigration court date, an appointment they rarely kept. The sponsor is often a relative, and also possibly an illegal alien.

When in 2016 word reached Central America that illegal crossers would eventually be set free, the border surge increased 40 percent. Homeland Security Department statistics show that for the last six years, only 6 percent of youths who entered the country illegally were returned, a fiasco that encouraged more illegal immigration.

Beginning in 2012, the surge into the United States of unaccompanied aliens and their families, many motivated by the prospect of an executive order amnesty, jumped 60 percent from 2012 to 2013, and 75 percent from 2013 to 2014.

During those years, the number of illegal crossings not only rose, but spread from the California border into Arizona and West Texas. Yuma County (Ariz.) Sheriff Leon Wilmot blamed the availability of federal assistance to released aliens as the major pull factor.

Last year, border crossings encompassed more than families and minor children traveling alone. Also included were aliens, motivated by the Obama administration’s enforcement failures, coming to the United States to seek employment.

Kelly is right to use all available means, including jawboning, to discourage illegal entry, which makes female travelers easy marks and undermines American sovereignty.

President Donald Trump’s vow to deport criminal aliens, already in place, and his commitment to curtail illegal immigration have sent a clear message to prospective border surgers: Obama’s permissive period is over; Trump’s enforcement era has begun.

Smuggling routes that coyotes charged $3,500 for in November now cost $8,000, a sure sign that Trump’s tougher policies work.

Trump’s message has reached Mexico and Central America. During his first month, illegal border crossing declined 40 percent, a major achievement that Americans should hail.

— Joe Guzzardi is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Joe Guzzardi is an Institute for Sound Public Policy analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. A California native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he can be reached at The opinions expressed are his own.