Illegal Migrant ‘Squatting’ Influencer Arrested By ICE  

On Friday, Leonel Moreno, a Venezuelan national who unlawfully entered the United States in April 2022, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) outside of Columbus, Ohio. Moreno has become infamous for his viral videos encouraging illegal immigration and “squatting in unoccupied homes across the U.S.

Squatting refers to occupying an uninhabited building or piece of land without lawful permission in order to establish some legal claim to possession. The practice typically takes advantage of laws designed to protect legitimate tenants and those that can convey property rights through “adverse possession.”

In a statement, ICE officials detailed Moreno’s disregard for the law, noting that after entering the country, he failed to report to the Enforcement and Removal Operations office as required. Of course, he is only one of untold millions of illegal migrants residing inside the U.S. who have also failed to comply with the legal requirements of their dubious asylum claims.

Moreno’s content, which boasted of earning money without working and mocked Americans’ work ethic, struck a chord of controversy. In videos, he flaunted what he claimed were the proceeds of government handouts and earnings from his social media activities, even as he encouraged others to follow his lead in squatting homes.

The incident has also drawn attention from political figures. In response to Moreno’s posts, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) emphasized Florida’s aggressive position on enforcing property rights and immigration law, unlike so-called “sanctuaries” like New York, Illinois, and California. DeSantis’s comments come as he signed legislation to combat squatting and empower landowners to protect their property rights more effectively.

Moreno’s arrest sheds light on the broader challenges facing the U.S. amid a surge in illegal migration, particularly from Venezuela. The difficulty in deporting Venezuelan nationals due to strained diplomatic ties and the limitations of current immigration policies are part of an ongoing debate. Despite the historic levels of migration and the specific challenges posed by Venezuelan migrants, deportations to Venezuela remain low, with many individuals re-entering the U.S. even after being removed.

Moreno’s case illustrates the complex interplay between immigration policy, social media influence, and the rule of law. His arrest by ICE not only highlights the agency’s ongoing efforts to enforce immigration laws but also raises questions about the role of social media in promoting illegal activities. Moreno’s ability to leverage his online platform to encourage squatting and illegal entry into the U.S. underscores the need for a much more robust approach to immigration enforcement and a careful look at social media regulation.


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