A Frustrated Video Game Developer Gets Nabbed at the Border

PHOTO: smoldersSam Smolders/Facebook
Sam Smolders' Facebook profile picture.

The tech industry has been at the forefront of the immigration debate this year, calling for more visas for programmers and engineers.

But the lack of progress in Congress may have forced one video game developer to skirt the law in order to enter the United States.

Sam Smolders, a Belgian national, was taken into custody by border agents on September 5 after they found him soaking wet on a boardwalk near the Detroit River, which divides the U.S. and Canada.

Agents reported that Smolders had a waterproof bag and a personal flotation device with him. When they ran his name, they found that he had applied for entry to the U.S. in 2008 but was denied.

Back in March, the industry publication Develop recounted Smolders’ story as a “deported, homeless, moneyless” game creator.

The developer told the magazine that he was born in Belgium but had lived in Arizona from when he was 5-years-old to when he turned 18. He said that due to improperly filed immigration paperwork, he was told he had to leave the country.

He’s since gone on to develop a role-playing game called “Victim of Zen,” and someday hoped to launch gaming companies in the U.S. and Europe, according to the magazine.

His plan to return to the U.S. wasn’t quite working out, according to posts on his Facebook page this April.

He chatted with other Facebook users about a failed appeal to the U.S. embassy in Belgium:

After these years, being forced out here. Not even getting my paperwork looked at on the wim [sic] of the staff, I am now officially not believing in the system. I am going to be pursuing practical, non-system means (meaning that according to the governments, they would be illegal).

Smolders also wrote in that thread that he planned to embark on “an illegal expedition.”