Accused Attacker of Paul Pelosi Present in the United States Illegally; Faces Deportation

Accused Attacker of Paul Pelosi Present in the United States Illegally; Faces Deportation

On Oct. 28, 2022, an individual violently attacked Paul Pelosi, husband of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, seriously injuring Mr. Pelosi, who was hospitalized following the attack and underwent surgery for his injuries. Amid the controversy and misinformation surrounding the politically charged incident, it has become clear that the accused assailant was present in the United States illegally and may be subject to deportation. The tragic incident offers a glimpse into the intersection of criminal law and immigration law. 

Political Attack Against Paul Pelosi

On Oct. 28, 2022, an assailant violently attacked Paul Pelosi in his San Francisco residence, inflicting serious injuries including a fractured skull. While the details of the attack remain somewhat unclear, state prosecutors believe the attack was political in nature, with Speaker Pelosi being the intended target. 

Federal prosecutors charged the suspect with two federal crimes: assault of an immediate family member of a federal official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties; and attempted kidnapping of a federal official on account of the performance of official duties. In addition to federal charges, the suspect was charged with six state felonies including burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and attempted murder. The suspect has made no comment on the charges, nor has he had the opportunity to challenge them in court.

Suspect Present in the United States as Visa Overstay

According to an article published on November 1, 2022, in the New York Post by Joe Marino and David Propper, the suspect involved in the attack was present in the United States illegally. Specifically, he had overstayed a visa and remained in the country without lawful status for many years prior to the attack. 

A noncitizen who is lawfully admitted to the United States is provided an authorized period of time during which they are permitted to remain in the country. Any period of time the individual remains in the country after the authorized time expires is considered a “visa overstay,” which means the individual is present in the country without lawful status. Accumulating unlawful presence in the United States can lead to serious consequences, including a three-year bar from returning to the country for those who accrue over 180 days of unlawful presence and a ten-year bar for those who remain unlawfully for more than one year. In 2020, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that over half of a million individuals were present in the United States as visa overstays.

Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity

Individuals who remain in the United States without lawful status and commit certain crimes may be subject to enhanced penalties including removal (deportation) from the United States.

Not all criminal convictions lead to deportation. However, among the primary types of criminal activity that lead to deportation are aggravated felonies, which are crimes statutorily defined to invoke immigration consequences. The full list of criminal convictions that constitute aggravated felonies are outlined at Section 1101(a)(43) of Title 8 of the U.S. Code. 

In addition to aggravated felonies, crimes involving moral turpitude can invoke consequences including deportation. While immigration law does not explicitly define what constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude, courts have held that these crimes often include theft, murder, voluntary manslaughter, and crimes involving inherent vileness, such as rape and other sexual crimes. 

The consequences of criminal activity for noncitizens in the United States can be severe. For the suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already filed a detainer, indicating they intend to detain the individual following the conclusion of his criminal matter. Cases involving both criminal law and immigration law can be complex, so it is advisable for anyone facing such a situation to consult an immigration attorney to better understand their options.

To learn more about this blog post, or if you have any other immigration concerns, please feel free to contact me at or (484) 544-0022.

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