Paris police started evacuating hundreds of migrants Tuesday from a tent camp near a major train station and tourist area — a patch of increasingly crowded pavement that has become a symbol of Europe's struggle in facing a surge of migrants.

The migrants, mostly from East Africa, took agonizing journeys to arrive in the French capital but now find themselves in legal limbo, with little prospect of asylum and slim job chances.

Anger at their presence has mounted among local leaders and some residents. In response, dozens of police vehicles and garbage trucks on Tuesday morning surrounded the area, in the shadow of the famed Sacre Coeur basilica and near the Gare du Nord train station.

Migrants slowly gathered their blankets and meager belongings and mounted buses. They have been living near the Eurostar train tracks to Britain, below an elevated metro line, for months.

The migrants' destination wasn't immediately clear. Social worker Bruno Morel of aid group Emmaus said some will be taken to centers for asylum-seekers.

Many migrants say this was not the Europe they expected — sleeping outside beneath the rumble of subway trains, waiting for asylum applications to be processed.

The evacuation comes as the EU is seeking better ways to handle the flood of migrants, including a controversial plan to divide up the refugees arriving on Mediterranean shores among all 28 EU member nations to help share the burden that is crushing Italy and Greece.