Blue state squatters put on notice with 'aggressive' law and order bill: 'People are getting killed'


A New York Republican lawmaker is railing against the state’s squatting “epidemic” with a bill that would allow police to immediately evict squatters, while ushering law and order back into the Democratic-run state, he said. 

“We need to make sure that we fix this huge epidemic right now. And it’s coming more and more and more,” Republican state Sen. Mario Mattera, who represents the 2nd Senate District on Long Island, told Fox News Digital in a Zoom interview this week. 

New York, most notably in New York City, has been rocked by repeated instances of squatting cases, including a handful that have turned violent and even murderous. Mattera pointed to one man on Long Island in 2021, plumber Thomas Buckleman, who was brutally beaten with a baseball bat by a squatter when he was hired to winterize a building in Blue Point. 

Buckleman was left with three fractures to his skull and blood on his brain, and told local media at the time he believed he was going to die. Last month, another woman died when she allegedly walked into her deceased mother’s New York City apartment and discovered squatters. The squatters were arrested in Pennsylvania after allegedly stealing the dead woman’s Lexus and stuffing her body in a duffel bag. 

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NY Sen. Mario Mattera speaks at microphone

New York Republican state Sen. Mario Mattera. (NY Senate.gov)

“We need to fix this now, so we can stop the bleeding. The bleeding needs to stop. People are getting hurt. People are getting killed. And what are we doing about it? Guess what, my bill gives the tools to all law enforcement to do their job,” Mattera said. 

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Injuries plumber endured by squatter

Thomas Buckleman’s injuries after a squatter allegedly attacked him while he was working to winterize a building. (Sen. Mattera/Thomas Buckleman)

Mattera introduced a four-part bill package late last month, including Senate Bill S8867, which would notably allow police to immediately evict a suspected squatter based on the legal homeowner’s sworn testimony complaint. 

“Just by a complaint, calling police officers, prove that you are [in] ownership of that home, and you have the attesting to certain facts, can immediately cause a squatter or other unauthorized persons to be evicted from residential property by a police officer on the spot, without court intervention,” Mattera explained. 

The bill is styled after a bill in Florida that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law that eliminates “the squatter scam.” Mattera lauded Florida and DeSantis for the bill’s passage and called on Democrats in New York to rally around his bill as Democrats did in Florida. 

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“You know, the American dream. Just think about it: life, liberty, and property. The American Dream, and you know what, it is shattered by bad laws of the land of New York State. This is a great law. Governor Ron DeSantis signed it. It was a bipartisan law. He signed it into law effective July 1 of 2024,” he said, adding that he would love to see DeSantis as former President Trump’s 2024 running mate. 

Under New York law, people can claim “squatter’s rights” after occupying a property for 10 years or more. Under New York City law, however, squatters can claim rights to a property after living there just 30 days. 

In many cases, squatters move into empty homes that are on the market or the homes of recently-deceased people. They either fly under the radar for 30 days in New York City to claim squatters’ rights, or produce fraudulent documentation that they are on a lease for the property. Such crimes are considered civil cases, meaning legal homeowners spend months in court, and often thousands of dollars in legal fees, to legally evict the squatters. 

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New York City skyline

New York City is working to solve the squatting issue. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)

Savvy criminals have apparently exploited the laws, with Mattera pointing to a case unfolding in Queens where a suspected squatter showed proof of rights to a home by presenting an UberEats receipt from burger joint Shake Shack for $25.27, ostensibly to show they lived on the property as it had the address. 

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“A married couple invested … in a home in Queens, Jamaica, Queens, several years ago. Now they’re forced to go to court right now,” he said. “An alleged squatter hired an attorney. There it is. Imagine, this squatter hired an attorney. And there they are, they have a burger chain receipt that says that that’s the proof that they live in that house. By a burger shack giving them a receipt with the address on it when they delivered it,” he said. 

“This is serious. My bill is a very, again, a very aggressive bill. It gives the tools to our police officers to do their job.”

Though “aggressive” against squatting, Mattera said the legislative package also provides protection for individuals wrongfully removed from a property, “including potential triple damages, restoration of possession, and attorney fees for the aggrieved party,” his office explained in a press release last week. 

The package would also redefine the definition of “occupant” to exclude squatters and trespassers, it would exclude squatters and trespassers from the “current squatter-friendly remedy for self-help evictions,” and clarify that criminal trespass in the third degree includes squatters.

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Mattera said the explosion of squatting cases in New York comes after a series of “bad laws” in the state that have emboldened criminals, including cashless bail that has allowed repeat offenders to return to the streets after certain arrests. 

Mattera pointed specifically to the fatal shooting of NYPD Detective Jonathan Diller in Queens last month, allegedly at the hands of a career criminal who had been arrested 21 times prior. 

Officer Diller in NYPD uniform on scene

NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller is survived by his wife and their nearly 1-year-old son. (NYPD)

“Twenty-one [priors] … that person should have been in jail. And we wouldn’t be talking about Officer Diller. We would not be talking about that right now. And you know what, these cashless bail laws, shame on all of the people on the other side, with the Democrats, what they have done to pass these laws,” he said, echoing police leaders and fellow Republicans across the state who are demanding the law be repealed following Diller’s killing.

He said cashless bail needs to be repealed. 

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diller funeral

The hearse carrying the casket of NYPD officer Jonathan Diller arrives for his funeral at St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church on March 30, 2024 in Massapequa, New York. Officer Diller was killed on March 25 when he was shot in Queens after approaching an illegally parked vehicle. Two suspects have been arrested, charged and are being held and without bail for the murder of Diller. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Mattera connected his bill regarding squatters to cashless bail, saying if the squatter bill is passed, it will help usher back law and order policies to the Empire State. He added that some of the alleged squatters in New York have lengthy criminal histories and should be in jail if not for cashless bail, such as the suspect who attacked Buckleman in 2021. 

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“I was there when the governor went to Officer Diller’s wake, and you know, didn’t get a good reception. Rightfully so, Governor. Do something about it in your budget. Do something now in the budget, right now, to repeal cashless bail,” he said, referring to tense video of a man standing outside the wake last week talking to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul before the governor turned around and left the service. 

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul arrives at the wake for slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller at the Massapequa Funeral Home

New York Governor Kathy Hochul leaves the wake of slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller at the Massapequa Funeral Home in Long Island, New York, on Friday, March 29, 2024. Diller, a three-year NYPD veteran, was killed during a traffic stop in Queens earlier this week. (Probe-Media for Fox News Digital)

Squatting issues could flare even further in New York as the state has seen a flood of illegal migrants in New York City as the migrant crisis continues spiraling under the Biden administration. At least 7.2 million illegal migrants have entered the U.S. since Biden took office in 2021, which is more than the population of 36 individual states.

More than 175,000 migrants have arrived in New York City over the last two years, city officials said in February. 

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Migrants potentially taking over homes in the U.S. came under the spotlight last month when a viral video on TikTok showed a migrant explaining to others how to “invade” and take over empty homes after they have crossed the border. 

The TikToker’s account has since been deactivated, but Mattera said the man’s message has already hit the internet and “the damage” encouraging migrants to squat “is done already.”

TikToker urges migrants to take over abandoned homes using squatters rights

Venezuelan TikToker Leonal Moreno urged illegal immigrants to take over abandoned homes and invoke squatters’ rights. (TikTok/Screenshot/Leonal Moreno)

“Look at what just happened with the illegal migrant going on TikTok … and saying to everybody, ‘This is what you need to do. You could go do this. Go find vacant homes. Go do what you could do.’ … Yes, he got arrested, but the damage is done already,” he said. 

Mattera pinned blame on Gov. Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams for not rescinding sanctuary city and state policies in their respective jurisdictions, saying the Democratic leaders have “enabled” migrants. 

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“They’re enabling the illegal migrants right now. They’re being enabled. They don’t want to go to work. They’re like, ‘You brought me here. Now you take care of me.’ But again, the governor and the mayor could have signed an executive order … rescinding the sanctuary state and the sanctuary city [policies]. Please, all New Yorkers understand that, and call the governor, call the mayor of New York, and ask them: What are you doing to fix this disaster that they both created,” he said. 

Adams and Hochul split image

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. (Getty Images)

Last month, the NYPD arrested eight migrant squatters who allegedly took over a Bronx property, where they found guns and drugs. The New York Post reported six of the eight migrant squatters had been released without bail. 

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“We just had another situation in the Bronx. It was another thing with the drugs, guns. … The owner of the property in the Bronx … he couldn’t get rid of them either. So this bill, S. 8867, will do the job, give the tools to our law enforcement to remove these people that do not have any permission to be on anybody’s property or in anybody’s property,” he said. 

Mattera said that while he is working on passing his bill, Democrats are overwhelmingly “nowhere to be found” on squatting issues. A similar squatting bill was introduced in the New York Assembly that’s sponsored by both a Republican and Democrat, which Mattera hopes is indication Democrats across the state will get on board with the bills. 

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“There’s a reason why we have people exiting New York to go to Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, especially, and Texas … We lost over 1.5 million people that exited New York State because of bad laws. And you know what? People are frightened. People do not feel safe anymore,” he said. 

Hochul’s office did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. Adams’ office directed Fox News Digital to the NYPD when asked if there was concern migrants could exploit local squatting laws. Fox News Digital reached out to the NYPD but did not receive a response. 



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