David DePape, the man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, is from Canada and not in the U.S. legally, according to the Department of Homeland Security — news that Republicans have seized to reframe the attack around one of their central campaign issues.
DePape entered the country in 2008 at a border crossing near San Diego, the Washington Post reported. As a Canadian, he was allowed to enter the U.S. without a visa. He likely stayed beyond the six-month limit usually placed on travelers who vacation in the U.S.
The revelation rattled the loaded debate over the attack on Pelosi’s husband and whether Republican rhetoric about the speaker of the House catalyzed the attack.
Republicans have deflected these questions and pointed to Democratic policy on crime as the real issue. Now, they’re adding in immigration policy, two areas conservatives often connect and two areas where they outperform Democrats in opinion polling.
“David Depape was an illegal alien that overstayed his visa & should have been deported,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote on Twitter. “If Paul Pelosi was a [Second Amendment] supporting gun owner he could have shot the man that was trying to kill him. It’s dangerous Democrat policies that led to Paul Pelosi being attacked.”
Generally, when Republicans talk about illegal immigration, the reference is understood to be to the southern border crisis, which has been spurred by violence and economic conditions in some Latin and Central American countries. Donald Trump ran for president on a platform to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, not the one between the U.S. and Canada.
DePape is giving Republicans a last-minute peg to talk about immigration in the context of crime, but his country of origin has proved to be a wrinkle in their narrative.
The revelation of DePape’s Canadian background is a reminder that immigration in the United States is diverse, and includes low- and high-skilled workers, asylum-seekers and others from all over the world.