The fence four metres (13 feet) high being built in addition along its entire 175-kilometre (120-mile) border with Serbia is due to be completed by the end of October or early November, the government says.
But with the southern Hungarian border closed – and border controls reintroduced between Germany and Austria, some refugees say they are going to try a different route – such as heading west via Croatia.
Divisions were also rife over the plan unveiled last week by the European Commission – the EU’s executive – for binding quotas to redistribute 120,000 refugees.
Mohamed Sheikh, a 38-year-old Syrian father from Latakia, said Tuesday at the Hungarian border town of Roszke that European authorities have to come up with a better way for people to seek safety.
The country quickly declared a state of emergency, which means the military might soon join the police at the border.
The United Nations has said that the majority of all arrivals qualify as refugees, fleeing political violence in their home countries.
Germany, which is expecting to receive a million asylum-seekers this year, has been pushing for other European countries to take their fair share of refugees.
“We will start a new era”, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said shortly after midnight, when the new laws came into effect.
“The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country”, he said, adding that this was also necessary for security reasons.
Yet throngs of refugees, carrying everything they had on their backs, kept walking along the fence Tuesday, trying to find a way through.
Luxembourg’s foreign minister, who chaired a meeting to discuss the problem on Sunday evening, said it would be “premature” for the European Council to take a decision. Chaos ensued at the border, as hundreds of migrants piled up in a no man’s land, and Serbian officials reacted with outrage.
However, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have opposed the quotas.
Britain instead will offer sanctuary to 20,000 vulnerable people, including many children, in refugee camps in the Syria region.
It would allow the government to mobilize the army – pending parliamentary approval next week – to help police with border control, and force courts to prioritize cases involving migrants caught entering Hungary illegally.
The 1,487 voters outnumbered by far the 256 (12%) voters who said they would be willing to host such families, whereas 200 of the voters (9.4%) answered maybe, and another 184 (8.65%) votes, said they didn’t know.