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 US illegally and faces possible deportation after his criminal cases are 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 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 cases that often occur after criminal cases are resolved, but immigrants have also been detained after they posted 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 route to Northern California has remained a mystery.

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

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Canadians traveling for business or pleasure generally do not need visas, officials said, and he was admitted as a “temporary visitor,” 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 filings allege

The Canadian government confirmed this week that they are 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 trying to deport arrested immigrants for crimes.

California has exemptions 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 on Monday filed charges of attempted kidnapping and assault against DePape, alleging that he broke into Pelosi’s home, bludgeoned her husband with a hammer in front of police, and then said he wanted to break Nancy Pelosi’s knees 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 the life or serious bodily harm of a public official.

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

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

Paul Pelosi was able to call 911. But when officers arrived and told DePape to drop the hammer, he pulled free and hit 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 has said that her husband is making steady progress towards recovery.

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

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

The alleged attacker filled the blog with delusional thoughts in the days leading up to 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 period after the election, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post.

The memo said the most credible threat “is posed by individual criminals who leverage election-related issues to justify violence.”

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

“We must, with one overwhelming unified voice, speak as a country and say that there is no place, no room for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether directed at Democrats or Republicans,” Biden said. “No place, period. No place, ever.”

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

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