Since the Austria’s clampdown began, more than 200 refugees have been picked up, and another five people have detained on suspicion of smuggling, officials said.
“The main aim is to gangs target smuggling. What is happening here are controls conducted by traffic police and security forces — these are not border controls,” said police spokesman Helmut Marban.
Working in close collaboration with Hungarian, Slovak and German authorities, police are stopping trucks, vans and cars in an effort to catch those trying to make money from people fleeing war and persecution.
Shortly after the checks began, officers discovered 12 migrants — nine adults and three children — crammed inside a minivan carrying a French number plate. The group was believed to be predominantly from Syria, according to media reports. The driver, whose nationality was not immediately clear, was arrested, Austrian authorities said.
The border delays follow days of finger pointing by European leaders over who is to blame for the current crisis and who should be responsible for taking in more refugees. France in particular has lambasted Hungary — which is in the process of completing its 100-mile razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia — for its stance toward refugees.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that Budapest’s policy toward refugees is “extremely harsh” adding in an interview with French radio that Budapest was undermining European values by “putting up fences that we wouldn’t even use for animals.” Hungary responded by accusing Fabius of “shocking and groundless judgment.
The EU has announced that a meeting of home affairs ministers will take place on Sept. 14 in an attempt to forge some sort of coherent plan to cope with the increasing number of refugees arriving at its borders.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said the refugee crisis facing Europe is testing the core ideals of universal rights at the heart of the European Union.
“Universal civil rights have been closely linked with Europe and its history as a founding impetus of the European Union,” she said.
“If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won't be the Europe we wished for,” she said, urging other EU members to accept their fair share of asylum seekers.
Germany, the union's most populous country and biggest economy, expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times more than in 2014 and more than any other EU country.
“If we don't arrive at a fair distribution, then the issue of Schengen will arise — we do not want that,” she said, referring to the visa-free zone covering much of the EU and several neighboring countries.
Merkel said Germany must cut red tape to quickly build more shelters and train more language teachers, saying that while German "thoroughness is super ... what we need now is German flexibility".
Italy especially must be offered help from other EU nations as it had taken in huge numbers of migrants arriving via the Mediterranean Sea, the chancellor said.
She also implicitly criticized countries including Slovakia that have rejected migrants from Islamic countries, saying: “if we start saying ‘I do not want Muslims’ ... that cannot be good.”
On the spate of hate crimes and attacks against refugee shelters in Germany, she vowed that the "full force of law" would be brought down on those who insult, attack or launch arson attacks targeting the newcomers.
“There will be zero tolerance for those who put in question the dignity of other people,” she said.
Al Jazeera and wire services. Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons contributed to this report from Budapest.