Draconian contemporary border exclusion policies have had a devastating impact on migrants worldwide, eliciting vigorous expressions of public outrage around the world. Yet, despite growing evidence of human rights abuses as a result of these policies, States and policy makers continue to recommend more restrictive frameworks, doubling down on exclusion. Promoting a renewed “return package”, they encourage buffer and transit states to undertake “swiftreturns” of unauthorized entrants, promoting voluntary return as the preferred solution to the unwanted presence of migrants. This article discusses the consequences and implications of these policies for children. In particular, it probes the reality of distress migration for African adolescents trapped in Libya.