The British Columbian man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home and attacking her husband with a hammer should have been flagged by immigration officials and blocked from getting back into the U.S. after overstaying his authorized entry more than two decades ago, a federal official said Thursday.
David DePape, 42, legally entered the United States in 2000 and later left the country and returned a few times, including entering in March 2008 at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Most Canadians are not required to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. as tourists and can stay for up to six months. The official said it was unclear why U.S. authorities admitted DePape after he overstayed his entry in 2000.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to questions about DePape’s entry to the United States after he violated immigration law. It acknowledged in a statement that DePape was allowed into San Diego from Tijuana on March 8, 2008, but didn’t address any other entries.
San Francisco police said DePape confronted Paul Pelosi in the family’s Pacific Heights home on Oct. 28 and demanded to know where the House Speaker was. DePape pleaded not guilty to state charges on Tuesday and was ordered held without bail. His public defender, Adam Lipson, said he looks forward to providing him with a “vigorous legal defence.”
DePape faces state charges of attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He also faces federal charges including attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official. His state case will continue Friday, though the defendant will not appear in the courtroom. An arraignment on federal charges has not been scheduled.
In the state court filing, prosecutors detailed the attack in stark terms, saying Paul Pelosi, 82, was knocked unconscious by the hammer attack and woke up in a pool of his own blood.
Two officers who raced to the home after Paul Pelosi called 911 witnessed DePape hit him with the hammer at least once, striking him in the head, according to court documents. Officials said the assault was captured on the officers’ body cameras.
DePape grew up in Powell River, B.C., but relocated to California to be with a girlfriend, stepfather Gene DePape told The Associated Press last week. He has three children with two women, he said. Gene DePape said the suspect had lived with him in Canada until he was 14 and had been a quiet boy.
DePape’s ex-girlfriend, Bay Area nudist activist Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, told the San Francisco Chronicle she met DePape in Hawaii in 2000. The pair lived in Berkeley and had two children during their 15-year relationship.
U.S. officials have long struggled to quantify — let alone track down — people who enter the country legally and overstay visas, believed to be about 40% of the population who are in the country illegally.
There were 684,499 visa overstays from October 2019 through September 2020 among visitors who arrived by plane or ship — more than the population of Vermont or Wyoming – according to the Department of Homeland Security’s latest annual report. The total number of overstays is much larger but has not been quantified because it doesn’t include how many people arrive by land, the primary way for Canadians and Mexicans to enter the United States.
The cost and technological hurdles to develop a checkout system at congested land crossings with Canada and Mexico are enormous. In the 12-month period through September 2020, more than 52,000 Canadians who came to the U.S. by air or sea had overstayed their legally authorized entry.
Despite the challenges, the U.S. official said DePape’s overstay should have been noted in immigration records, which, in theory, should have prevented authorities from admitting him.