WASHINGTON — The Canadian man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer and trying to kidnap Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been living in the United States with an expired immigration status for years, officials at the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday.
David DePape, 42, who the authorities say broke into the Pelosis’ home in San Francisco on Friday, entered the United States legally on March 8, 2008, from Mexico through a port of entry in California, the department said. Typically, Canadian visitors who travel to the United States for work or pleasure are admitted for six months.
Prosecutors say Mr. DePape’s intent was to take the House speaker hostage, “to seriously harm her” and to make her an example to other members of Congress. He faces several state and federal charges, including attempted kidnapping, assaulting a relative of a federal official, attempted murder, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
Ms. Pelosi was in Washington at the time of the assault.
The attack on Paul Pelosi, 82, who is recovering in an intensive care unit in a San Francisco-area hospital, comes during a time of heightened politically motivated violence before the midterm elections next week. In recent years, there has been a surge in threats against political figures from both parties. Ms. Pelosi, the third in line to the presidency, has been one of the most targeted figures.
While some Republicans condemned the attack on Mr. Pelosi, others have spread baseless conspiracy theories about the assault and the attacker’s motives. They have added Mr. DePape’s immigration status to their list of criticisms of President Biden’s immigration policies.
Mr. DePape’s immigration status was reported earlier by The Washington Post. The exact number of people in the United States who have overstayed the time they were permitted to be in the country is unknown; estimates range from hundreds of thousands to millions of people. Doing so is a civil offense.
When Mr. DePape was arrested on Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told local law enforcement to notify the agency before releasing him from custody, as is typical in situations when people who are in the United States illegally are arrested on criminal charges. State prosecutors have asked the court not to release Mr. DePape on bail.
In recent years, Mr. DePape became homeless and spent his time absorbed in an online world of right-wing conspiracy theories. After the attack, he told the police that he had planned to attack other prominent state and local politicians.
Mr. DePape has pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges. A court appearance for the federal charges against him has yet to be scheduled.
Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.