The detention of non-status migrants is now commonplace in developed countries. Detention has been justified on such grounds as security, the welfare of non-status migrant populations, and as a way to speed up processing asylum claims. Drawing from the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko’s sustained interest in themes of migration and belonging, this article examines the relationships between technologies of government in detention and accommodation facilities, and the possibilities and constraints of protest that these settings and practices give rise to. The analysis highlights paradoxes of freedom as well as opportunities for protest that imbue these spaces. Using Foucault’s discussion of technologies of government, we draw on empirical research to highlight how orientation booklets, classes, and legal self-representation manuals are technologies that compel asylum seekers to become ideal detainees in hopes of being understood as ‘liberal subjects’ worthy of inclusion in a small number of evermore tightly policed Western European states. We conclude with the suggestion that asylum seekers’ paradoxical encounters with technologies of liberal government deliver a challenge to the accepted framework of citizenship within liberal societies.