Globalization has opened up a new cosmopolitan sensibility, putting a strain on traditional concepts of the nation state and its citizenry. With considerable increase in the global flow of bodies seeking asylum due to global conflicts, questions have been raised about the moral capacity for humane response by nations. Certain lives are perceived as grievable and therefore worth offering hospitality and liveability, while others are framed as ungrievable thereby failing in public debate and policy to be accorded the sense that their lives should be saved. While there have been a number of interventions arguing for all lives to be understood as grievable and worthy of refuge, there has been little attention to understanding the cultural role of political discourse in tacitly ‘categorising’ refugee lives as either grievable or ignored. This paper takes into account recent questions over how narratives that contribute to making distinctions between ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ operate to frame refugee and asylum seeker lives, examining some instances of public and political narratives for the ways in which they constitute refugees and asylum seekers as political or not, grievable or not.