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ICE wants to deport Pelosi attack suspect to Canada. D.A. Brooke Jenkins says S.F. won’t turn him over

San Francisco Chronicle 11/3/2022 By Rachel Swan
David Depape could face deportation after his criminal cases wrap up in San Francisco. © Michael Short

David Depape could face deportation after his criminal cases wrap up in San Francisco.

UPDATE: Nancy Pelosi to give televised interview on S.F. attack.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security want to deport the man accused of bludgeoning U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer, but District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said Thursday that she will refuse to turn him over, citing San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies.

The announcement by federal immigration authorities that they had placed an immigration detainer on David DePape, a Canadian citizen now incarcerated in San Francisco County Jail, was the latest jolt in a story that’s gripped the nation. Now, it’s become a test of San Francisco’s sanctuary city laws, which bar city departments and leaders from helping immigration officials with detentions or deportations.

“San Francisco is a sanctuary city and our policy is sacred,” Jenkins said in a statement, hours after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement publicly disclosed the hold on DePape, 42, who was arrested and accused of a home invasion, assault and bizarre kidnapping plot.

If local law enforcement were to comply with the ICE hold, they would turn DePape over to the federal agency to possibly be shipped back to Canada after his criminal cases wrap up in San Francisco. But Jenkins was adamant that won’t happen.

“We will not be collaborating or coordinating with ICE,” the district attorney maintained.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office was more cautious, however, stating that the sheriff “reviews ICE requests on a case-by-case basis to determine whether informing ICE of Mr. DePape’s release date, if any, is consistent with our local sanctuary city ordinances.”

“The Sheriff will evaluate all information, up to the time of any release date, before making that decision,” spokesperson Kelvin Wu said, noting that the detainer only comes into play if DePape is released from jail.

Asserting that sanctuary city laws build trust between the community and law enforcement, Jenkins concluded that any deportation discussions “are moot” anyway, because she is confident prosecutors will convict DePape. Based on the charges her office filed, “Mr. DePape is facing life in prison,” Jenkins said.

DePape faces an array of felony charges in San Francisco and federal court, for attempted murder, assault and attempted kidnapping, among other crimes. The parallel cases stem from a chilling incident just after 2 a.m. Friday, when he allegedly broke into the Pelosis’ Pacific Heights home seeking to take Nancy Pelosi hostage, but instead found 82-year-old Paul Pelosi asleep in the couple’s bedroom.

According to Homeland Security records, DePape arrived in the U.S. as a temporary visitor on March 8, 2008, at San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, a border between San Diego and Tijuana.

Canadian travelers ostensibly visiting the U.S. for business or pleasure are allowed to stay six months, generally without a visa, under U.S. immigration laws.

ICE places immigration holds on people arrested on criminal charges, whom agency officials believe they can deport under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In lodging the detainer, agency officials request that local law enforcement alert ICE before releasing the person from custody, so immigration officers can seize the person for transfer to an ICE facility.

DePape’s wandering history traces back to British Columbia, where he was born and spent at least part of his childhood living with stepparents, said Teresa DePape, the wife of DePape’s stepfather. After finishing high school, DePape evidently grew restless, relatives said, prompting him to migrate first to Hawaii and then the Bay Area.

Voting records in San Francisco show DePape registered as a member of the Green Party in 2002, signing a declaration under penalty of perjury that he was a U.S. citizen, according to a registration affidavit released by Department of Elections Director John Arntz.

The California elections code states that if a person signs such an affidavit, it “shall be deemed evidence of citizenship for voting purposes only.”

Teresa DePape said she believed he may at one point have married a U.S. citizen, though much of his past remains fuzzy.

In the early 2000s he seemed to embrace liberal politics, dabbled in a fringe movement for public nudity, and had an ongoing romantic relationship with high-profile nudity advocate Oxane “Gypsy” Taub.

DePape gravitated to the right wing in recent years, ultimately becoming infatuated with online conspiracy theories and posting to blogs that seemed to have no audience. His apparent delusions — and a warped sense of patriotic duty— ultimately led DePape to Pelosi’s back door, investigators said.

He later allegedly told investigators he intended to take the speaker hostage and interrogate her, breaking her kneecaps if she lied. But Pelosi was out of town and DePape encountered her startled husband, who retreated to a bathroom and surreptitiously called 911, according to official accounts.

Police arrived in time to see the two men struggling over a hammer, which DePape allegedly seized and used to strike Pelosi unconscious before officers tackled him.

Rachel Swan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @rachelswan

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