Mothers from Honduras and their children prepare to get into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services agent's truck after crossing the Rio Grande near McAllen, Tex., in July 2014. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Imprisoning — and now potentially separating — mothers and their children is expensive and cruel. It’s also completely ineffective.

The face of immigration is changing from one of men seeking economic opportunity to one of women fleeing warlike conditions in hopes of keeping themselves and their children alive. In 2016, 91 percent of women and children at the Southern border were from Central America, where the rates of homicide are the highest in the world. These are the people that we are trying to “deter” with increasingly cruel tactics.

Yet we know that victims of violence will continue to seek asylum despite deterrents, and it is within their legal rights to do so under the Geneva Convention. Despite increased incarceration by the previous administration in hopes of decreasing immigration, the number of women and children arriving has grown fourfold. And a full 98 percent of asylum-seeking families abide by court requirements when given legal representation.

We must do better for these families by implementing holistic immigration policies. Continuing on our current path will not deter asylum seekers, but it makes each of us complicit in perpetuating violence against innocent women and children.

Heather L. Taylor, Falls Church

The writer is executive director of the

Greater DC Tahirih Justice Center.