WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Chinese national who was convicted of lying and trespassing at Mar-a-Lago remains jailed and in the custody of immigration officials despite completing her sentence a year and a half ago.
Yujing Zhang was charged with making false statements toward federal law enforcement agents and unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds after being arrested at Mar-a-Lago on March 30, 2019.
At the time of her trial in Fort Lauderdale, there were hints she may have been up to something nefarious at President Trump's home, but she was never charged with espionage.
WPTV reported in April that a recent court filing from the U.S. Attorney's Office said Zhang would be deported to China in eight weeks, but that time has now passed.
"This is double jeopardy. This is paying twice, being punished two times over for a crime. No U.S. citizen would be in this situation," said Richard Hujber, an immigration attorney in Boynton Beach.
Her eight-month sentence was completed in November 2019, 18 months ago, and legal experts believe she should have been returned to China by now.
"There are certain things they seized from her hotel room. The government hasn't specified what they have found or come across, certainly if it was enough they would have charged her with espionage, but there may have been some stuff there. Put it this way, that makes them want to hold her longer and punish her more," Hujber said.
Zhang earlier this year started calling WPTV's Contact 5 producer, and without an attorney, has been handwriting motions asking a judge to allow her to go home.
Hujebr, who is not Zhang's attorney but has looked over the paperwork in her case, said treatment like this can often happen with non-citizens.
"Having worked in the federal government, I can tell you, they lose track of people, people fall through the cracks. Even when you have people in custody at taxpayers' expense, the government will forget about you," Hujber said.
The immigration attorney said at some point they will have to let Zhang out of jail and deport her to China, but it is strictly up to the government to decide when that happens.
"Six months was one thing, but now a year a half, any judge could look at this and say this isn’t reasonable. It's time to move to deport her or release her," Hujber said.
Zhang is currently in the Glades County Jail under the direction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who is in charge of holding her, said they won't comment on her situation.
"As there is pending litigation on this case we are not able to speak specifically to the lawsuit as ICE does not comment on pending litigation," a spokesperson for ICE said in an email.