What happens when you have both an immigration crisis and an inability to deal with squatters? Naturally, some of those immigrants will become squatters, compounding the problem. Some experts warn that the situation is reaching a point of no return. Let’s see what having on-demand tutorials on flouting laws could lead to.

Squatting Laws in Some States Are Too Lenient

In many states in the US, some laws protect renters from eviction. However, based on their wording, these laws can easily be used to take over a person’s house. Squatters can easily establish legal precedence through forged deeds or even Amazon package delivery.

Source: Flickr/Prairie Kittin

Once squatters know that there’s a vacant property that hasn’t been occupied in some time, they can take up residence there. When they do, the owner has a hard time getting them out.

Housing Shortages Have Led to Increased Squatting

The US has been experiencing a very difficult housing market, as prices have skyrocketed due to low supply. Most homeowners aren’t selling because they don’t see the point in divesting themselves too early. They won’t even be able to afford a replacement property.

Source: Flickr/MichaelEClarke

With low supply and high prices, squatting on an existing property is more economically feasible. With lenient squatter rights laws, it’s almost impossible for the owner to get it back without paying the occupier.

Many Migrants Crossing the Southern Border

To compound the housing shortage, migrants from all over Latin America and further afield are gaining entry into the United States along the southern border.

Source: Flickr/Jonathan McIntosh

While border patrol is doing all it can to manage this surge of immigrants, there just isn’t enough funding from the federal government to support protection along that border.

Immigrants From All Over the World

While most immigrants from the southern border are from areas closer to the United States, like Venezuela, Colombia, and the Caribbean, there are many more.

Source: Flickr/Reg Natarajan

Most recently, statistics have shown that the number of migrants coming from places like China entering the southern border has increased many times—and that’s only the crossings we know of.

Reports of Migrants Linked to Crime

It’s a common theme in Republican politics to highlight illegal immigrants’ impact on crime. Most recently, the death of Augusta nursing student Laken Riley was a rallying point for anti-immigrant policies.

Source: Flickr/nick@

However, while many migrants are trying their best to make a new life for themselves legally in the US, some of them end up in crime and are usually stuck there because of their situation.

One Migrant Addresses The Masses

Migrant Leonel Moreno, an influencer on TikTok, has a video that says in Spanish that he has found a law within the US that allows him to seize unoccupied property for his own use.

Source: TikTok

While he’s not apparent about what he’s talking about, it’s a safe bet he’s talking about the squatter protection laws in many jurisdictions within the US as a tenant protection measure.

Not A Good Track Record

Moreno is currently being detained in Ohio after being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week for attempting to run past a border checkpoint.

Source: Flickr/Raymond Wambsgans

Before he was captured and lost possession of his phone, he had managed to garner over a million followers on TikTok. The platform highlights people who are popular with specific demographics.

Earning A Lot

He claimed he made over $1,000 daily from the platform, although these claims are unsubstantiated. TikTok is notorious for allowing small creators to “blow up” overnight.

Source: Flickr/401(K) 2012

Moreno’s $1,000-a-day income would have been supplemental to the money the government would pay him. He would have been collecting $350 a month in handouts.

TikTok Account Is Now Inactive

Even though Moreno’s TikTok account is now inactive, it’s still causing problems for United States officials. The video of him talking about the squatting law is still being circulated.

Source: Flickr/Alan Levine

Moreno also encourages people in the video to rise up and take advantage of the law’s loopholes. Although Moreno doesn’t say so, squatter rights laws differ from place to place.

Lenient Laws In Many Jurisdictions

New York City introduced a tenant protection law during COVID-19 to allow renters peace of mind during the pandemic. It allowed people to claim squatter rights after just 30 days in a location.

Source: Flickr/wp paarz

This 30-day limit for residential occupation only applies to New York City. The rest of the state requires a person to live on the property unimpeded for ten years (20 years for vacant land).

Adverse Possession is an Interesting Topic

When someone occupies a property through squatting, it’s known as adverse possession. Giving rights to squatters encourages landowners to be proactive about their land.

Source: Flickr/Dru Bloomfield

Unfortunately, in New York City, the laws aren’t designed to encourage landowners to be proactive but to protect tenants from landlords who may evict them.

Owners Can Be Arrested For Forceful Eviction

In New York City recently, a Queens homeowner was arrested for trying to evict squatters from his home. On another occasion, a woman was killed by squatters in her mother’s home.

Source: Flickr/Timothy Krause

It’s important to note that these squatters were not migrants. Between forgeries, fake deeds and leases, and lenient legal systems, squatters have everything they need to take over.

Senator Warns Migrants Could Fan the Flames of Squatting

Republican New York state Senator Mario Mattera recently introduced a bill allowing police officers to immediately evict someone from a property on a homeowner’s complaint.

Source: Flickr/David Lisbona

He warns that the influx of migrants could lead to even more squatting and that jurisdictions with such lenient laws associated with the practice should toughen up their stances.

Damage Already Done

Senator Mattera referenced Moreno’s video and noted that he was giving people instructions about what to look for and what to do to occupy vacant properties.

Source: Flickr/Alex Proimos

While Moreno was arrested and this TikTok was removed, the damage was already done as the video is still spreading among migrant communities.

Mattera Points Fingers

Who’s to blame for this situation? Senator Matera leveled the blame at Democratic leaders for enabling the squatting problem and letting it get out of hand because of lenient stances.

Source: Flickr/Mr. George1

Specifically, Mattera highlighted Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams for not cracking down on sanctuary city status and state policies.

A Simplified View of Migrants

Mattera is right to be worried about migrants latching onto unoccupied properties and taking advantage of the law. He has a very low opinion of immigrants in the first place.

Source: Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

He believes migrants are lazy people who don’t want to work and expect the state to take care of them. On the contrary, statistics show that migrants tend to be more proactive in looking for jobs when they make it into the country.

Guns and Drugs Found In Migrant Bust

To highlight Mattera’s position, a recent New York City bust on eight squatters found migrants with drugs and guns stashed in the property they were occupying illegally. The New York Post stated that six of the eight were released without bail to rub salt in the wounds.

Source: Flickr/Marco Verch

While this isn’t the norm, it sets a dangerous precedent for New York City, which is still fighting its own housing shortage crisis. This leniency toward squatters doesn’t paint a strong picture for the administration.

Three Critical Factors At Play

James Burling, vice president of legal affairs at the Pacific Legal Foundation, noted three vital factors that come into play when looking at why the squatter situation has become a crisis. They are the COVID-19-era eviction protections, housing shortages, and immigration.

Source: Flickr/Joe Catron

He also highlighted that squatting protection laws were most prevalent in cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles. Those cities have distinctly left-leaning administrations that hold squatting in some sort of esteem.

Difficult For Homeowners To Fight Back

Squatters scope out a property, and the day before they move in, they order an Amazon package. When the homeowner tries to get them evicted, they could show the package to the police and say they rented the property. At that point, it’s a civil litigation affair that could cost the homeowner thousands and years of wasted time.

Source: Flickr/Eric Langley

New York, Atlanta, and even Chicago will start seeing more migrants abusing their lenient squatting laws. By this time, Moreno’s video will have been circulated to millions of people. Despite the warnings, administrations in these cities are doing nothing to change the current situation. By the time they’re ready to respond, it might be too late to stop the problem.