What roles do street-level workers play within the migration regime? How do their discourses and practices reflect struggles regarding ethical and normative questions and link back to the political arena, where laws and policies come into being? Following a street-level approach, this contribution argues that street-level workers’ everyday stories and reflections provide an interlinked understanding of the macro- and micro-level developments of policy implementation within migration control. Indeed, besides the constant need to legitimise their actions and represent the «state», street-level workers’ micro-level stories reflect broader macro-level issues, including a discourse of deservingness, security- and control-oriented framings, as well as ideas on care and support. Based on fieldwork conducted with various governmental and non-governmental agencies in Sweden, Switzerland and France, this work traces street-level motivations for working in such a contested field. It reveals agency workers’ various and, at times, contradictory views and goals, as well as ways in which actors become an active part in shaping policies through their everyday negotiations. This permits a deeper understanding of how the seemingly polarised goals of the migration regime create intangible practices but, taken as a whole, are highly productive.