Greek authorities have opened a first detention center for illegal migrants under a new anti-immigration drive launched shortly before Sunday's national election.

Police say dozens of people were being taken Monday to the site at Amygdaleza, on the northern fringe of Athens, the capital. The first batch, 56 people, were interned on Sunday. The center is designed for 1,200 inmates.

Local residents have held a series of protests, saying the camp will add to the area's crime problems.

Crisis-afflicted Greece is the main entry point for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants seeking a better future in the European Union. Authorities say 500,000 have reached the country over the past three years.

The influx has coincided with a sharp increase in violent crime. Immigration is a major campaign topic ahead of the election.