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Leonel Moreno, a Venezuelan national who illegally crossed the southern border and enrolled in the Alternatives to Detention program in the US, is now on the run from immigration officials after failing to follow the rules of the program. Moreno claims to receive $350 a week from the federal government and is currently hiding in plain sight, possibly in Columbus, Ohio. ICE is working to locate Moreno, who was initially released on parole due to a lack of space in detention facilities, without being fully interviewed and vetted by authorities.

Former ICE field office director John Fabbricatore criticized the Biden administration’s reliance on the Alternatives to Detention program, which currently includes over a million people. Moreno’s case highlights the shortcomings of the program, with individuals being allowed entry into the US and then absconding. ICE in Miami is trying to locate Moreno after he failed to appear in immigration court in November 2022. Fabbricatore stressed the importance of transparency regarding the program’s policies to prevent compromising the safety and integrity of US borders.

Moreno has become a Tiktok influencer, encouraging Venezuelans to squat in the homes of US citizens and boasting about living in the US for over a year without having to work. He frequently flaunts supplies bought with food stamps and claims to earn around $1,000 a day by begging for cash on social media. Moreno instructs his followers on various scams, such as claiming abandoned vehicles to sell for scrap and faking injuries to ask for money. He dismisses the notion of working, encouraging others to be creative in seeking financial support.

Despite claiming to be investigated by child services for involving his baby daughter in posts about scams and begging, Gahanna Police have not confirmed any ongoing investigation. Moreno’s journey to the US involved traversing 12 countries and attempting to seek asylum in Canada, but ultimately coming to America where he claims to receive free handouts. He criticizes Canada for not fulfilling promises of accommodations and job opportunities, highlighting his preference for the benefits he receives in the US. Moreno’s social media presence and advocacy for illegal immigration have garnered national attention.

Moreno’s actions have raised concerns about the impact of his influence on social media and the potential for others to follow in his footsteps. He portrays the American Dream as accessible without the need for work, using various tactics to maintain his lifestyle without a traditional job. His disregard for the law and exploitation of welfare programs bring attention to the vulnerabilities within the immigration system and the need for more stringent vetting procedures. The Biden administration’s policies on immigration and border security have come under scrutiny due to cases like Moreno’s, emphasizing the importance of addressing gaps in the system to protect US borders and citizens.

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