Migrant Influencer in Legal Trouble After Encouraging Border Crossing

A federal guns prosecution may be pending against Leonel Moreno, a Venezuelan migrant who gained internet fame for advocating for others to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recently, Moreno—who entered the United States illegally in 2022—uploaded to TikTok his short videos, where he offered tips on “squatting” in American houses and brags about how much social security benefits his family received.

The immigration argument is heating up in the run-up to the November presidential election, and this contentious social media presence is a reflection of what plagues U.S. citizens who see a willingness to let parasites infiltrate the country to siphon off tax money.

Trump and his Republican followers may use immigration as a wedge issue in their campaigns.

Moreno crossed the border unlawfully near Eagles Pass, Texas, in April 2022, according to records from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The individual was detained by the Border Patrol in Venezuela as part of the Alternatives to Detention program. This program enables ICE to monitor migrants using ankle monitors and comparable technologies. Moreno settled in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, Veronica Torres, and their newborn baby. However, ICE classified him as an “absconder” due to his failure to return within 60 days of his arrival.

Soon after entering the United States, Moreno’s films urging his “fellow Venezuelans” to live off the American government grew popular on TikTok’s video-sharing platform. Excerpts revealed that Moreno boasted about the $350 weekly he claimed to get in social security payments and the meals he had bought with food stamps. In addition to making outrageous claims about how much money he makes panhandling, he made fun of immigrants who prefer to work in service industries like cleaning, landscaping, or construction.

On Friday, ICE agents in Gahanna, Ohio, detained Moreno. According to federal records, the ATF had contacted ICE about Moreno, and charges might be filed under the Gun Control Act, according to the papers.