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Hungary Declares Emergency As It Blocks Migrants At Border

A young man and his son lean on a border stone after they were stopped by Hungarian soldiers Tuesday at the border exit between Serbia and Hungary in Asotthalom near Roszke, southern Hungary. Matthias Schrader/AP hide caption

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Matthias Schrader/AP

A young man and his son lean on a border stone after they were stopped by Hungarian soldiers Tuesday at the border exit between Serbia and Hungary in Asotthalom near Roszke, southern Hungary.

Matthias Schrader/AP

With new border control laws taking effect, Hungary has sealed its border with Serbia. Processing areas that were packed with more than 9,300 refugees and other migrants on Monday now stand empty.

Hungary declared a crisis in two southern counties today, as crowds of migrants were halted in Serbia, having missed the midnight deadline before the new and stricter laws took effect.

The new laws require people to enter Hungary only with passports and at official border posts — a requirement bolstered by a 110-mile fence along the Serbian border. Asylum cases are to be reviewed by courts.

Today, the scene along that border is starkly different than on many recent days. Around 200,000 refugees and migrants have crossed into Hungary this year; many of them are among the more than 4 million people who have fled violence in Syria since 2011.

Describing the scene at one former processing area in southern Hungary, Lauren Frayer reports for our Newscast desk:

"Aid agencies are dismantling huge tents. Cleanup crews rake trash into piles. Portable toilets are loaded onto trucks.

"Thousands of migrants who'd slept rough in this cornfield for days have been bused to the Austrian border. The Serbian border here is sealed. People can only cross through official border posts. The railway tracks where they had streamed into Hungary by the tens of thousands are now blocked with barbed wire.

"New laws make it illegal to tamper with that new fence or climb over it — punishable with up to three years in prison."

Lauren says that the authorities have detained dozens of people since the new laws took effect at midnight.

The move to stiffen border controls comes one day after Hungary sent police and soldiers to form a human chain along the border ahead of the midnight deadline, as the Two-Way reported Monday.

The tightened border has created a new problem for people hoping to cross Hungary and find a new life in the European Union.

The BBC reports:

"Around midday there were tense scenes as hundreds streamed towards the fence, some searching for a way through and others starting a sit-down strike, throwing down food and water in protest at not being granted passage."