The present article discusses the gradual transformation of «hotspots » for migrants from sites of transit to places of detention and containment. Hotspots are intrinsically linked to the EU-Turkey Statement, as one of the means by which the Greek State now governs irregular migration. These facilities restrict freedom of movement, but also transform the islands hosting them into places of strandedness. The hotspots are thus transformed into a detention space. By exploring the transformation of the spatial, legal and policy framework, as well as the ways in which migrants attempt to overcome it, this piece analyses the reconfiguration of the Northern Aegean region into a buffer zone, and situate migrant agency within a developing policy context at the external borders of the European Union.