The paper seeks to explore the reasons behind the persistent exclusion of young migrants from South and East Mediterranean (SEM) countries in their two main areas of destination, the Gulf States and the EU. It focuses on youth from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Turkey, during the key period of the Arab uprisings and their aftermath. The paper covers the period until June 2015. Its aim is two-fold: first, to describe the characteristics and institutional background of the migration policies applied to youth from the six countries, in their two main areas of destination; second, to understand the political motives underlying recent changes to these policies, following the uprisings. In a perspective of political demography informed by Foucault’s theories, migration policies are envisaged as technocratic discursive practices.