Sanctuary City Brawl in the Texas House as Session Ends

"There was a subsequent exchange between my brother Poncho and Representative Rinaldi and there was a threat made from Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleague's heads", Representative Justin Rodriguez said afterward.

A Republican Texas lawmaker who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement to round up protesters at a rally at the Texas capital on Monday, posted a threat on Facebook to shoot a fellow lawmaker.

In Austin Monday, both the Texas Senate and the House adjourned, bringing the 85th legislative session to a close.

Hundreds of protesters removed from the public gallery of the Texas House after their demonstration opposing a tough new immigration law are continuing to chant and cheer in the rotunda of the state Capitol.

He had accused Democratic Representative, Poncho Nevarez, of threatening his life after he called immigration authorities over "several illegal immigrants who held signs in the gallery which said 'I am illegal and here to stay'". It was the final day of an intense four-month session debating sanctuary cities, and over 1,000 demonstrators showed up to protest a new state law that makes it illegal for local law enforcement to refuse to comply with immigration laws and detention requests.

SB-4 will take effect on September 1, and opponents have said they will oppose the bill in court.

"Fuck them, I called ICE", Rinaldi said, according to State Rep. Ramon Romero Jr.

Nevarez told CNN that physical altercations should never happen on the House floor, which is why he challenged Rinaldi to bring the heated discussion outside. "That's why I called ICE".

While Democrats are now apologizing for their end of the ensuing scuffle, they still say it's Rinaldi's fault.

Rinaldi left the House floor and wasn't available for comment.

Astrid Dominguez, immigration policy strategist of the ACLU of Texas, said Rinaldi should apologize for his hateful rhetoric about peaceful protestors exercising their constitutional rights.

"The best thing you can say about it is it was the last day and they're not here staring at each other again", he added.

A legislative session that began in January concluded Monday, and the day is usually reserved for group photos and goodbyes.

Although the visiting activists are urging resistance, some immigrants are abandoning Texas for more liberal states, where they feel safer from deportation.

Democratic State Representative Philip Cortez reported the events to news outlets saying, "We were just on the floor talking about the SB4 protests, and Matt Rinaldi came up to us and made it a point to say, 'I called [ICE] on all of them, And this is completely unacceptable".

Rinaldi told The Texas Tribune that he was pushed and shoved by two Democratic representatives after he'd revealed that he called ICE.

  • Larry Hoffman