- In March 2019, a Chinese woman was arrested for trespassing at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
- Yujing Zhang was found guilty of trespassing and lying to federal officers and served eight months in prison.
- She was in immigration custody for nearly two years after completing her sentence and before being deported.
A Chinese businesswoman who was convicted of trespassing at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was deported this weekend after being held in immigration custody for nearly two years, the Miami Herald reported.
Yujing Zhang, 35, was arrested on March 30, 2019, after she gained access to the private Palm Beach club while Trump was there. Secret Service agents said she lied to them in order to get in and aroused their suspicions after giving staff mixed messages about why she was there.
One agent said Zhang had brought four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external
, and a thumb drive that contained
Insider’s John Haltiwanger reported., or a virus, into the resort,
Her arrest sparked concerns about national security and questions about whether she was a Chinese spy.
In September 2019 Zhang was found guilty of lying to a federal officer and trespassing. She was never charged with espionage, and prosecutors did not offer an explanation into what exactly Zhang intended to do at Mar-a-Lago. Her motives remain unclear.
Zhang told US District Judge Roy Altman she came to Mar-a-Lago “to meet the president and family and just make friends,” according to the Associated Press. She also said Trump had told reporters he invited her to come, which Altman said was a lie.
She was sentenced to eight months in prison and the judge ordered she be turned over to immigration officials to be deported after her release.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told the Herald that Zhang was transferred to immigration authorities after completing her sentence in December 2019. Due to deportation delays brought on by the pandemic, she was held for nearly two additional years, or three times the length of her prison sentence.
Zhang filed a habeas corpus petition in December 2020 to speed up her removal process so she could return to her native China, the Herald reported.
“It violates a person’s basic rights,” she wrote by hand in a motion filed in federal court. She also said in the petition that she had no money to call her family in China and needed an attorney to help get out of immigration custody.