This article proposes a way forward in the debate about law and new governance in the contemporary European Union. Migration management is used a prism through which we can see what is happening in a significant area of EU activity and re-evaluate new governance, both in terms of its opportunities, but also crucially, its dangers. A rethink on new governance and its application to external migration implies an alteration of the lenses by which we see migration, by uncoupling new governance from its synergy with ‘good’ governance and to instead consider that new governance may offer policy-makers opportunities to meet goals beyond legislative processes. The article does not argue that new governance should be used in migration management. Rather, by using governance as an explanatory concept and providing a critique, the contribution of the article is to highlight the potential dangers that new modes of governance may pose to transparency and legitimacy in the contemporary EU, especially if they are used to bypass legislative processes and avoid civic involvement.