Immigration officials confirm alleged Pelosi attacker was in the U.S. illegally


The man accused of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer is a Canadian citizen who is in the United States illegally and faces possible deportation after his criminal case is resolved, the Department of Homeland Security said late Wednesday.

“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer on Canadian national David DePape with San Francisco County Jail, November 1, following his October 28 arrest,” DHS officials said in an email.

ICE, which is under Homeland Security, sends “detainers” to state and local law enforcement asking them to notify the agency before releasing aliens who may also be deported. Deportation is a civil process that often occurs after criminal cases are resolved, but immigrants are also detained after they receive bail.

DePape, 42, faces state and federal criminal charges in the gruesome attack on Paul Pelosi, 82, early Friday morning, and for threatening Nancy Pelosi. DePape has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody.

Relatives have told the media that DePape grew up in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, but his trajectory to Northern California remains a mystery.

Federal records show DePape entered the United States legally on March 8, 2008, via Mexico. He crossed at the San Ysidro port of entry, the official border crossing that connects San Diego County with Tijuana.

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Canadians traveling for business or pleasure generally do not need visas, officials said, and he is admitted as a “temporary visitor,” traveling for pleasure, DHS said.

Canadians admitted for pleasure are generally allowed to stay up to six months. DHS did not say exactly when DePape’s permit to stay in the United States expired.

Pelosi’s attacker told police he was on a ‘suicide mission,’ court claims

The Canadian government confirmed this week that it is working on DePape’s case.

“Canadian officials are working with local authorities to get more information,” Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Charlotte MacLeod said. “Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed.”

California, home to millions of immigrants, is a sanctuary state and has passed laws that limit state and local law enforcement cooperation with immigration officials, which has frustrated immigration officials who want to deport immigrants arrested for crimes.

California has exceptions for people with serious criminal histories and it remains unclear how DePape’s case will unfold. State prosecutors say he poses an extreme safety risk.

Federal authorities on Monday filed a kidnapping and assault charge against DePape, alleging she broke into Pelosi’s home, beat her husband with a hammer in front of police, then said she wanted to break Nancy Pelosi’s knee as a warning to other Democrats.

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DePape was also indicted Tuesday in San Francisco County Superior Court on state charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment and threatening life or serious bodily harm to a public official.

Court records show DePape allegedly used a hammer to break into the House speaker’s home in San Francisco early Friday and disturb her husband, who was sleeping upstairs.

“Are you Paul Pelosi?” DePape allegedly spoke as he confronted Pelosi, court records show, standing over her holding a hammer and a zip tie. “Where’s Nancy?”

Paul Pelosi managed to call 911. But when the officer arrived and told DePape to drop the hammer, he pulled it free and struck Pelosi in the head, knocking him unconscious.

State prosecutors called the attack “near fatal.”

Paul Pelosi underwent surgery to repair a “skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hand,” according to a statement issued by Drew Hammill, Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman. The spokeswoman said her husband was making steady progress toward recovery.

DePape allegedly told police he was on a “suicide mission” and had created a target list of state and federal politicians in his effort to stamp out “lies” coming out of Washington.

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DePape has also published hundreds of blog posts in recent months supporting far-right figures and written diatribes against Jews, Blacks, Democrats, the media and transgender people.

The alleged assailant filled the blog with delusional thoughts in the days leading up to Pelosi’s attack

The attack added to national concerns about the threat posed by domestic violent extremists as the Nov. 8 midterm elections approach.

The FBI, DHS and other agencies issued a memo last week warning that extremism could increase in the 90-day post-election period, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post.

The memo said the most plausible threats “are posed by single perpetrators who leverage election-related issues to justify violence.”

Concerns about election-related violence prompted President Biden to deliver a speech in Washington on Wednesday night.

“We must, with one unified voice, speak as a country and say there is no place, no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether it’s directed at Democrats or Republicans,” Biden said. “There is no place, sorry. Nowhere, ever. “

Holly Bailey, Aaron C. Davis and Dalton Bennett contributed to this report.


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