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 was in the U.S. illegally and faces possible deportation after his cases are resolved criminals, the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday afternoon.

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

ICE, which is under Homeland Security, sends “detainers” to state and local law enforcement to require them to notify the agency before releasing a foreign national who could also be deported. Deportations are civil proceedings that often take place after criminal cases are settled, but immigrants have also been detained after posting bail.

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

Family members have told the media that DePape grew up in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, but his background in Northern California has remained a mystery.

Federal records show DePape entered the United States legally on March 8, 2008, through Mexico. He crossed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, an official border crossing linking San Diego County with Tijuana.

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

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

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

The Canadian government confirmed this week that they were working on DePape’s case.

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

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

California has exceptions for people with serious criminal records, and it’s still unclear how DePape’s case will play out. The State Attorney’s Office has said that it represents an extreme risk to security.

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

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

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

“Are you Paul Pelosi?” DePape said as he confronted Pelosi, court records show, standing over him holding a hammer and ties. “Where’s Nancy?”

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

State prosecutors called the attack “near fatal.”

Paul Pelosi underwent surgery to repair a “fractured skull and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” according to a statement issued by Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Nancy Pelosi. The speaker said her husband is making steady progress toward recovery.

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

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

An alleged assailant filled the blog with delusional thoughts days before Pelosi’s attack

The attack added to growing concerns across the country about the threats 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 threat “is posed by lone criminals who use 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 speak, with an overwhelming unified voice, as a country and say there is no place, no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether directed at Democrats or Republicans,” he said Biden. “No room, period. No room, ever.”

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


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