People walk alongside a higher new metal wall installed by U.S. workers to replace fencing along the border between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and Sunland Park, N.M., in Juarez on Sept. 12. (Herika Martinez/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

The arrival of families, women and children from Central America seeking asylum is not related to a broken immigration system, and it is not just about destitution. It is, as pointed out in the Oct. 27 editorial “A border crisis returns,” directly related to horrific levels of violence in the region.

The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize this as a refugee situation and treatment of it as a border-security issue focused primarily on deterrence, punishment, detention and obstructed access to due process represent the wrong approach. The administration’s attempts for the past three years have not worked; refugees keep coming. It is time to acknowledge this as what it is and respond accordingly by addressing the violence in Central America while investing in improving our asylum-screening and adjudication procedures. All this can and must be done while remaining faithful to our principles as a haven for those seeking liberty and safety and maintaining orderly border procedures.

We cannot and should not stop people from fleeing violence to save their children’s lives, but we can ensure that the process through which they reach safety is orderly and efficient and complies with fundamental American values.

Michelle Brané, University Park

The writer is director of migrant rights and
justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission.