Hungary to Migrants: Cross This Fence and You're a Criminal

New laws boost its crackdown at border with Serbia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2015 7:07 AM CDT
Hungary Declares Emergency, Starts Busting Migrants
A young man and his son lean on a stone after he was stopped by Hungarian soldiers at the border exit between Serbia and Hungary near Roszke, southern Hungary, today.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Hungary declared a state of emergency and police arrested 60 migrants at or near the country's 110-mile southern border with Serbia after new laws took effect at midnight making it a criminal offense to cross the border illegally or mess with the 13-foot razor-wire fence, the BBC reports. With the state of emergency, police have been given more power to detain migrants and search homes they believe are housing migrants, and courts are able to expedite migrant cases, the AP reports. Troop deployment is also on the table if the Hungarian parliament approves. "We will start a new era," government rep Zoltan Kovacs said. "We will stop the inflow of illegal migrants over our green borders," though he added that "official and legal ways to come to Hungary, and therefore to the European Union, remain open."

Several countries, including Hungary, have opposed the EU Commission's call for migrant quotas to spread the refugees more equitably throughout its 28 member countries, the AP reports. Hungarian authorities say more than 200,000 migrants have crossed into their nation this year, notes the BBC. Police will be stationed every 115 feet or so along the Serbian border, per the New York Times, and those trying to breach could be jailed or deported. Meanwhile, a UN rep in Serbia tells the paper that refugees, especially those from Syria, should be offered protection. "More than 70% of the population escaping Syria are refugees, running away from a situation that is for them a matter of life and death, and it is [up] to us to do all that we can to help them." Kovacs' counter, per the Times: "The [migrants have] arrived … from 100 different countries, proving that this is a migration crisis and not a refugee crisis." (These images of migrants crossing Hungary toward Austria show the scale of the issue.)

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