For my empirical research, I have deliberately chosen different sites and contexts. In the Italian case, the fieldwork was conducted at the French-Italian border region near Ventimiglia [see The ethnographic research].

While designing my research, I chose to focus on a border area because of the symbolic role that internal borders assume in defining not only the EU migration policy but also the autonomous actions of migrants who irregularly (more and more often in the face of exhausting travel) move from southern to northern Europe. Migrants’ journeys demonstrate the impossibility of total control over secondary mobility. Even though the border is on the side lines of the State, it is never a “marginal” place (Brambilla, 2015, p. 26) because it is here that the mechanisms for managing and dividing migrants are most visible (Cuttitta, 2012; Tazzioli, 2017b), and so is the relationship between these mechanisms and their lives.

In the case of the Netherlands, on the other hand, I centred my research on the formal (SET) and informal places (squats, makeshift camps) in which refugees and irregular migrants are located in the city of Amsterdam. Furthermore, I conducted a brief study on the LVV-Pilot [“Development of national structures for foreigners”] by interviewing the project managers in four of the five cities involved in the Pilot (Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam, Utrecht) as well as coordinators of the main structures involved in the project in the city of Amsterdam. The cities of this northern European country are trying to manage the irregular presence of migrants on their territories. Some people are irregular because they overstayed their visas, others because they received rejection at the end of the asylum procedure. Moreover, many people find themselves in an irregular status because they have irregularly crossed the EU’s internal borders under current legislation. Some of the people I interviewed in Amsterdam in the informal settlements came to the Netherlands right across the border of Ventimiglia. These people, according to the Dublin system, should return to Italy.