This study draws on ethnographic fieldwork with undocumented and stateless families in Sabah, Malaysia to examine how deportability shapes children's relationships with the Malaysian state. By centering the perspectives of children and their families, the author argues that the figure of the stateless child challenges state logics of immigration control in two ways. First, born in Malaysia but without proper identity documentation or legal status from any nation, stateless youth in the study were “deportable to nowhere.” Second, Malaysian immigration control inadvertently transforms stateless children into the very “illegal” migrants that the government seeks to deter: for some, expulsion to their ancestral country and eventual illicit return to Malaysia marked the first times they had crossed an international border. The article concludes by discussing the implications of stateless children for the nation-state system's organizational principles more broadly.

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