Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is denying an allegation by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office why it was denied access to the Canadian illegal immigrant accused of assaulting the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – after the sheriff’s office said it turned away a person who presented himself as an ICE officer for lack of ID.
ICE sources told Fox News earlier this month that the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office had denied ICE officers the opportunity to interview David DePape – whom DHS had confirmed as an illegal immigrant originally arriving in Mexico in 2008 on a visitor’s visa entered the United States.
DePape faces charges of attempted murder, home invasion, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false detention of an elder, and threatening an officer and her family. He has pleaded not guilty. San Francisco is one of several jurisdictions that have “safe zone” policies that prohibit or restrict working with ICE. The state of California has also introduced protective measures for years.
The SFSO told Fox News last week that an individual posing as an immigration officer arrived at the county jail on Oct. 31 to gain access to DePape for an interview. However, they said the person was denied access due to a lack of government ID – instead they said they only presented a business card.
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However, a spokesman also said that it is the bureau’s policy to deny ICE employees entry into the prison if they are involved in enforcing civilian immigration – meaning they would likely have been denied entry even if they were presented legitimate identification.
“Our deputies do not grant ICE access to the prison, and employees are not authorized to grant access to anyone conducting civil immigration enforcement,” said FSO communications director Tara Moriarty.
However, an ICE official has since told Fox News Digital that the ICE agent, a deportation officer with Enforcement and Removal Operations, not only attempted to conduct an in-person interview with DePape, but also had government ID.
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“The officer identified herself and presented her government-issued ID cards, which included her photograph, name, position and organization,” the officer said. “[San Francisco County Jail] declined the DO’s request to interview DePape.”
In response to ICE’s statement, the FSO said it stood by its own statement and reiterated its version of events.
“An individual posing as an immigration officer entered our prison on Monday, October 31, 2022 with a business card but no government ID and was therefore denied entry to the prison.”
Jon Feere, former ICE chief of staff during the Trump administration, said it was “standard practice” for ICE to interview detained illegal immigrants to determine next steps in an immigration case and that doing so could provide ICE with important information.
“ICE is limited by what it can see on its files, and the individual’s circumstances may have changed since their last interaction with the federal government,” he told Fox News Digital last week.
“When dealing with our electronic systems, ICE sees the fingerprints of a foreign national who was arrested by local law enforcement. But a personal conversation can confirm a lot. And the truth is, in any law enforcement situation, you never know what you’re going to uncover during an interview,” he said.
DHS has confirmed it has issued a warrant for DePape’s arrest — a request that law enforcement hold an illegal immigrant on release so ICE can take him into custody. The question of whether ICE can interview DePape is independent of whether the inmate is honored.
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The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office had noted to Fox that the inmate would only be a problem if DePape was released from prison, saying that honoring that inmate would be a case-by-case basis.
“The sheriff is reviewing ICE requests on a case-by-case basis to determine whether notification to ICE of Mr. DePape’s release date, if any, is consistent with our local shelter city ordinances,” Moriarty said. “The sheriff will evaluate all information up to the point of release before making this decision.”
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.