Venezuelan Migrant Who Encouraged Squatting in US Homes Under Arrest, Housed in Jail

Venezuelan Migrant Who Encouraged Squatting in US Homes Under Arrest, Housed in Jail

By The National Desk | NBC Montana

A Venezuelan migrant who recently went viral for posting a TikTok video instructing other migrants to “invade” U.S. homes and become “squatters” has been “detained pending further immigration proceedings.”

Leonel Moreno was arrested Friday in Gahanna, Ohio, and is being housed at the Geauga County Jail.

He was brought there by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said the Venezuelan “illegally entered the country” on April 23, 2022.

Border Patrol placed Moreno in ICE’s Alternative to Detention program, which uses technology and case management to ensure compliance with release conditions.

But Moreno was told to report to Enforcement and Removal Operations office within 60 days, and he did not.

Officers from ERO were the ones who arrested him.

Moreno’s original TikTok account, @leitooficial_25, has been suspended and an error message appears when trying to access the profile.

The term “squatters,” which refers to people who take up residence in a home without the owner’s explicit permission, has been dominating headlines in recent weeks across the U.S.

In New York, a squatting incident turned deadly when a 52-year-old woman was found dead, her body stuffed in a duffle bag. NYPD believes squatters took over the home when no one was there for a few months and killed the woman when she returned.

In Washington state, a judge sided with a squatter by granting him a restraining order against the owner of a $2 million home. Residents of the neighborhood have staged multiple protests in favor of the homeowner.

Each state has different laws when it comes to squatters, but in most areas, a person is classified as a squatter if they occupy a property for more than 30 days even with permission.

If a squatter remains long enough, they can actually take ownership of the property. The legal term for this is called “adverse possession,” though it is hard to prove because there are a lot of legal conditions and it typically takes 10 to 20 years.

Some states are now cracking down on the issue.

There is a bill currently making its way through Georgia’s legislature – the Georgia Squatter Reform Act – that would make squatting a criminal trespassing offense, therefore leaving it up to police rather than a court. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a measure that allows police to remove squatters from a property at the request of a homeowner.

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