There are profound affinities between ordinary incarceration and migrant detention that entail both spatial dislocation (confinement) and temporal rupture. The excruciating difference commonly at stake in migrant detention, however, is the deeply ambiguous and profoundly punitive dimension of temporal indeterminacy. Hence, the colloquial equation of ‘doing time’ (or ‘serving time’) in prison ordinarily has the character of a finite countdown, whereas migrant detention deploys indeterminate waiting and temporal uncertainty as an end in itself, as punishment (if not torture) against people whose only transgression or offense is commonly their very existence (their mere status as ‘irregular’ migrants). Thus, migrant detainability and waiting (particularly in detention) serve to reconfigure disciplinary power (both in and through as well as beyond detention) through the production of an amorphous social condition of temporal precarity that refines and exacerbates the sheer disposability of migrant life. In this respect, for illegalised migrants subject to the detention and deportation powers, life itself is made to increasingly resemble a kind of prolonged punitive condition of confinement in a virtual ‘open-air’ prison.