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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Migrant influencer urges immigrant TikTok followers to 'invade' US homes

(NewsNation) — Amid the United States government’s efforts to manage the migrant influx, a man dubbed the “migrant influencer” is coaching immigrants on how to live in the country by taking advantage of laws protecting squatters.

Identified as Leonel Moreno, the Venezuelan national moved to the U.S. last September and lives in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, with his partner and infant daughter, the New York Post reported.

Currently, the migrant who goes by @leitooficial_25 online has over half a million TikTok followers, with his likes and reposts garnering millions more interactions.

In his most recent controversial video, which has garnered nearly four million views, Moreno advised followers to avoid being homeless in the U.S. by invading “empty homes and live there.” He claims that under U.S. law, an uninhabited home can be seized, referring to squatting rights.

“As we have more migrants moving into cities, more homelessness, we are going to see more squatting,” said James Burling, a property rights attorney. “They’re talking about all the advantages that you can get from squatting, it’s inevitable that it’s going to increase.”

In previous videos, Moreno bragged about initially coming to the U.S. for vacation but says he now lives off of U.S. taxpayers due to having a child in the country. He refers to his daughter as a “goldmine” and the family’s breadwinner, additionally revealing he awaits Americans’ pension checks every month.

In another video, he urges fellow Venezuelans to pay the fines of a 15-year-old migrant accused of shooting a tourist in New York City’s Times Square earlier this year, warning, “Today it could be him, tomorrow it could be one of you.”

A recent video on squatting by Moreno is gaining attention, as he tells his “comrades” that they can fix up abandoned homes that have deteriorated or are in bad condition and receive credits when the properties are sold.

However, Burling refutes this claim, stating it’s misinformation being spread on social media.

“I think publicity like what we’re seeing in TikTok and viral videos of that nature are going to magnify the idea that squatting is an alternative to not having enough housing,” he said.

NewsNation submitted a request to the Columbus Police Department for any records on Moreno but has not received a response. Additionally, NewsNation spoke with city leaders who reported they hadn’t heard of Moreno or seen a local uptick in squatting.

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