BUDAPEST, Hungary – The Hungarian government is expected to decide Tuesday to deploy the army to its border with Serbia as a set of harsh new laws meant to stop the huge flow of refugees and other migrants through the country take effect.
As the country sealed off its southern border, large numbers of confused migrants roamed the fields next to the barbed-wire fence that Hungary has recently built separating the two countries.
With Hungary cracking down, desperate people fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere struggled to make it into the country, hoping to reach Western Europe before it was too late. A record 9,380 migrants entered Hungary on Monday, beating previous the previous record of 5,809 set just a day earlier.
Under the new laws, most migrants entering the country from Serbia can be turned away because that country is considered safe and could theoretically provide them asylum.
The new law also makes it a crime to damage the 4-meter (13-foot) fence that Hungary has built on the 110-mile (175-kilometer) border with Serbia, giving police the power to detain anyone trying to breach it.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Cabinet will make a decision about whether to declare a state of emergency Tuesday. Orban said in an interview on Hungarian broadcaster TV2 that he people should count on the Cabinet approving the extraordinary measure.
It would allow the government to mobilize the army — pending parliamentary approval next week — to help police with border control, force courts to prioritize cases involving migrants caught entering Hungary illegally and give police the power to search homes without a warrant if they suspect migrants may be hiding there.
Dusan Stojanovic in Horgos, Serbia, contributed to this report.