In the face of an invasion of Belarusians, Lithuanians voted in favor of harsh new migration regulations.
On Tuesday, politicians backed the contentious bill, which allows for widespread detention of migrants and limits their right to appeal.
Hundreds of migrants have entered Lithuania illegally from Belarus in recent weeks.
Belarus is accused by Lithuania of flying in foreign migrants who then proceed to the border, which Belarus denies.
This year, almost 1,700 persons have been held at Lithuania’s border. The EU country has sent troops to the border with Belarus, which is not a member of the group and has begun constructing a 550-kilometer (340-mile) razor-wire fence.
After President Alexander Lukashenko won dubious elections and launched a harsh crackdown on demonstrators in 2020, relations between the two countries deteriorated.
Shortly after the election, opposition figures such as Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claimed victory, escaped to Lithuania.
In May of this year, relations worsened further when Belarusian rebel Roman Protasevich was imprisoned.
He and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were flying from Greece to Lithuania when their plane was escorted to Minsk airport by a Belarusian fighter jet due to a bogus bomb threat. As soon as the Ryanair flight landed, they were detained.
Following Mr. Protasevich’s detention, Western countries, which accuse Mr. Lukashenko of cheating last year’s election, have put more sanctions on his government.
The claims have been refuted by Mr. Lukashenko.
Interior minister Agne Bilotaite, who introduced the bill in parliament, claimed that the migrants were “not genuine asylum seekers,” but rather a “weapon to be used against Lithuania” by Mr. Lukashenko.
It would also “send a message to Iraqis and others that this is not a convenient way,” she added.
The law prohibits migrants from being released from jail for at least six months after they arrive. It will make the deportation of migrants go more quickly.
The refugees were “delivered on a compulsory basis as a weapon against us,” according to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.
However, the law has been criticized by human rights organizations. Egle Samuchovaite, director of the Lithuanian Red Cross, told Reuters that the act constituted a “possible human rights violation.”