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

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

“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an immigration detainer on Canadian citizen David DePape with 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, asking them to notify the agency before releasing a foreign national who may also be deported. Deportations are civil proceedings that often take place after criminal cases are resolved, but immigrants have also been detained after posting bail.

DePape, 42, faces state and federal charges for 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 has remained a mystery.

Federal records show DePape entered the United States legally on March 8, 2008, via Mexico. He crossed at the port of entry in San Ysidro, an official border crossing that connects San Diego County to 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” traveling for pleasure, DHS said.

Canadians admitted for pleasure are generally permitted 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 claim

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

“Canadian officials are in dialogue with local authorities to obtain more information,” said Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Charlotte MacLeod. “Due to privacy concerns, no further information can be released.”

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

California has exceptions for people with serious criminal histories, and it remains unclear how DePape’s case will play out. State prosecutors have said he poses an extreme security risk.

Federal authorities filed attempted kidnapping and assault charges against DePape on Monday, alleging he broke into the Pelosi home, threw her husband a hammer in front of police and then said he would break Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps 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, residential burglary, false imprisonment and threatening life or serious bodily injury to a public official.

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

“Are you Paul Pelosi?” DePape allegedly said when he confronted Pelosi, court records show, he stood over him with a hammer and duct tape. “Where’s Nancy?”

Paul Pelosi managed to call 911. But when officers arrived and told DePape to drop the hammer, he pulled 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 severe injuries to his right arm and hands,” according to a statement issued by Drew Hammill, spokesman for Nancy Pelosi. The speaker has said her husband is 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 debunk “lies” coming out of Washington.

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

Alleged Assailant Filled Blog With Delusions Days Before Pelosi Attack

The attack added to growing concerns across the country about the threat posed by violent extremists at home as the Nov. 8 midterm elections approach.

The FBI, DHS and other agencies issued a memo last week warning that extremism could rise in the 90 days after the election, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post.

The memo said the most plausible threat “is posed by lone offenders who exploit election-related issues to justify violence.”

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

“We must, with an overwhelming united voice, speak as a country and say there is no place, no place for voter fraud or political violence in America, whether directed at Democrats or Republicans,” Biden said. “Nowhere, period. Nowhere, ever.”

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

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