The borders of Europe do not only operate at territorial limits. This article argues for those identified as Roma, UK immigration control has shifted from gate-keeping at the territorial border to gate-keeping access to services through child welfare. Three factors have interrelated to foreground boundary-making in home encounters: European Union expansion, development of a post-welfare state and governmentalisation of vulnerable children. First this article examines how these three processes converge to activate the border through assessments of mothering in the home. Due to mothers’ particular migrant status, they are confronted with a choice between loss of motherhood or movement from the national territory. Second it illustrates how mothers engage in strategies of self-representation to negotiate bordering processes, requiring intensive work with a variety of actors. These actors are themselves located within racialised and gendered hierarchies. This article illustrates through ethnographic vignettes how the home is recast as a site of negotiating access to state forms where judgements of ‘good motherhood’ produce bordering effects. This represents a governing logic applied both to mothers and frontline workers resulting in stratified reproduction based on hierarchies of values.