SUBOTICA, Serbia – Shahid Khan says the one time he tried to enter the European Union by crossing Hungary's heavily guarded, fenced border with Serbia, he was beaten and chased away by Hungarian police with dogs.
"When they beat us, they were laughing with each other," Khan said. "The policemen, when they beat us, they are taking selfies with us."
Now, Khan says a new fence Hungary has started to build along with southern boundary will make life even harder for him and other migrants fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries.
"They treat us very bad," the 22-year-old from Pakistan said Tuesday in the Serbian border town of Subotica, where hundreds of migrants have been camping in fields and an abandoned brick factory.
About 7,000 migrants have been stranded in Serbia looking for ways to reach western Europe. Many have tried several times to cross to Hungary or Croatia.
Hungary built a barrier along the length of its borders with Serbia and Croatia in 2015. The government says the second fence is needed because it expects a surge of migrants this year.
A 10-kilometer (6-mile) experimental stretch of the second fence has already been built, some of it equipped with cameras, motion and heat sensors and other surveillance tools. On Tuesday, Hungarian workers could be seen by the border, unloading rolls of fence and barbed wire needed for further construction.
The country's right-wing government has dismissed criticism from human rights advocates over its migration policies, including the fence and measures that would lock asylum-seekers in border camps made of shipping containers while their cases are decided.
"They treat us like animals, and we are humans," Khan said.