This chapter deconstructs Europe’s governance of so-called “irregular migration” by comparing it to the chutes and ladders boardgame. Using this game metaphor, we expose the complex grid of in/formal strategies utilized on migrants to impact their mobility across space and time. Empirically, we discuss the results of a longitudinal study combining five interlinked investigations in four different countries - Libya, Greece, Italy and Belgium. Over a period of three years, about 300 Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URMs) were approached in in/formal reception and detention facilities where they were asked about their trajectories and the numerous interactions which they had with policy tools designed to manage their (im)mobility. In unfolding these narratives, we unveil how a series of non-/institutional actors can function both as chutes and ladders which alternatively hinder or facilitate URMs’ “onwards” mobility. Concurrently, we also expose how URMs rely on a variety of tactics to (try to) keep moving along their fragmented and multidirectional trajectories.
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