TikTok Influencer Who Encouraged Illegal Immigrants to Squat in US Homes on the Run From Authorities

Jen Krausz
By Jen Krausz
March 27, 2024Border Security
TikTok Influencer Who Encouraged Illegal Immigrants to Squat in US Homes on the Run From Authorities
Illegal immigrants wait in line to be processed by the Border Patrol at a makeshift camp near the U.S.-Mexico border east of Jacumba, San Diego County, Calif., on Jan. 2, 2024. (Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

A influencer who went viral for using TikTok to urge illegal immigrants to squat in U.S. homes is on the run from immigration authorities, according to new reports.

Leonel Moreno claimed in his videos that his family has been getting $350 a week in government handouts since coming illegally into the U.S.

He also said he has been making $1,000 a day on TikTok, but his account with more than 500,000 followers was suspended after some of the videos went viral.

A TikTok spokesperson said rules prohibit users from using the platform to promote criminal activities.

On Instagram, he has 17,000 followers and posted two videos Wednesday morning in which he showed a stack of $100 bills while singing and posing with his young daughter.

Mr. Moreno crossed the southern border illegally in April 2022 at Eagle Pass, Texas. He enrolled in the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program and received an ankle monitor.

Mr. Moreno allegedly cut off the monitor shortly after crossing the border and is now considered an absconder from the program.

Despite his fugitive status, Mr. Moreno has continued to post videos and some of them even indicate where he is when they were filmed.

One of the videos was filmed in front of a police car in Gahanna, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, but local police said they weren’t aware of the videos or Mr. Moreno’s location.

“To date, our agency has had no contact with this individual and we are unaware of his location,” Gahanna police said.

Illegal immigrants let into the country on parole due to lack of space in detention facilities were not fully interviewed and vetted by authorities, which takes about three days.

John Fabbricatore, a former Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office director for the agency in Denver said President Joe Biden’s reliance on Alternatives to Detention is “nothing short of a failure.” More than a million people are now in the U.S. instead of being detained.

“We have witnessed yet another individual who was allowed entry into the U.S. under the ATD program, only to abscond and make TikTok videos explaining how to break the law. The question stands—how many thousands more are out there unaccounted for after fleeing this program?” said Mr. Fabbricatore, who is running to represent Colorado’s Sixth District, said.

Mr. Moreno was supposed to show up in person to ICE in November 2022, but never did. He faces deportation if he is caught.

His immigration sponsor is a church charity in Miami, but he has been seen living in Columbus, Ohio.

“You came to the United States to work, and I came to vacation, look at the difference,” one video posted in February said. “You and I didn’t come with the same purpose. You came to the United States to pay the taxes that you didn’t pay in Venezuela.”

“I confess that I don’t like to work because it gives me allergies,” he said in another video posted the same day. “You work, I don’t, but in the end, neither of us have money. They keep criticizing us because I live off of taxes that you pay monthly.”

Besides bragging about living off taxpayer money, he also called followers to “unite” behind the shooting suspect in a New York Times Square shooting.

“He was only 15, he made a mistake,” Mr. Moreno said in one video.

In another, he urged his followers to pay the fines of the shooter.

“I invite you to find [his] mother and [for] all of us to unite to pay the fines [so] that the young Venezuelan feels that he’s not alone during difficult moments. Remember that up there there’s a God who sees everything [down here],” he said.

Other videos claim that the U.S. southern border is “open,” not closed.

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