In Texas legislature, tempers flare over immigration crackdown

Texas State Representative Matt Rinaldi, a Republican, called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on pro-immigrant protesters in the House gallery on Monday afternoon.

Rinaldi then said that another Democratic representative, Ramon Romero "physically assaulted" him, then "Poncho told me that he would "get me on the way to my car", something Rinaldi says he later repeated.

"I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, 'get me, ' I would shoot him in self-defense", Rinaldi wrote in a Facebook post.

The final day of Texas' legislative session sparked a brief moment of chaos when a protest in the public gallery of the state Capitol by opponents of the state's new anti-sanctuary cities law spilled into the House chamber.

About 40 minutes into the protest, which occurred on the last day of the legislative session in Austin, the crowd began cheering loudly, chanting "Here to stay!" and "Hey, hey, ho, ho, SB4 has got to go". A new "sanctuary city" crackdown starting in September will allow police during routine stops to ask whether someone is in the US legally.

It added: "Underscoring the racist intent of the new law, a Republican lawmaker claimed to have called immigration agents on the group, which included people of all immigration backgrounds and to put a "bullet in the head" of a Democratic lawmaker". He said Rinaldi also yelled "fuck you", at the Democratic lawmakers to the "point where spit was hitting" their faces.

Clearing the gallery was ordered and it resulted with a scuffle between Republicans and Democrats, pushing each other and instigating violence.

"Fear motivated me to get involved", said Gallardo, a 26-year-old Mexican native who entered the USA illegally at age 12.

Did state Rep. Matt Rinaldi just assume the protesters would be undocumented since a lot of them belonged to minority communities? "I am now under DPS protection".

Earlier Today on the Texas House Floor, Representative Rinaldi said, in regards to SB 4 protestors, " I called I.C.E.F**k them".

As Reps. Cesar Blanco, Phil Cortez, and myself celebrated the enthusiasm for civic engagement being shown, Rep. Rinaldi felt the need to break up our appreciation by telling us he had called ICE to deport the protesters in the gallery.

"Matt Rinaldi gave the flawless example of why there's a problem with SB 4", Romero added.

Calls can be made to the ICE tip line, but ICE does not always pursue every single tip.

Without audio of the exchange on the Texas House floor, it's impossible to say who threatened whom.

  • Leroy Wright