GOP representative Matt Rinaldi claims he was assaulted on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives on Monday after he told two Democratic reps that he'd called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on immigrant demonstrators who'd gathered to protest Texas's latest anti-sanctuary city bill.
Texas SB 4 holds local law enforcement to the possibility of serving jail time if they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when dealing with immigration and criminal issues.
The law, set to go into effect Sept. 1, will also allow local law enforcement to question those detained about their immigration status.
The Texas Observer reported that Rinaldi told two Democratic representatives that he had called ICE on the protestors — some of whom held signs that read "I am illegal and here to stay — and said "F**k them, I called ICE." He also reportedly referred to the demonstrators as a "disgrace."
Rinaldi told The Texas Tribune that he was pushed and shoved by two Democratic representatives after he'd revealed that he called ICE, calling their actions "basically just bullying."
It was later reported that Rinaldi was overheard threatening to shoot one of the Democratic reps.
Rep. Justin Rodriguez told the Tribune that "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 head [sic]. That kind of threatening language he needs to be called out and held accountable for.”
Rinaldi later released a statement on the fracas, which read:
Today, Representative Poncho Nevarez threatened my life on the House floor after I called ICE on several immigrants who held signs in the gallery, which read, 'I am illegal and here to stay.' Several Democrats encouraged the protestors to disobey law enforcement. When I told the Democrats I called ICE, Representative Ramon Romero physically assaulted me, and other Democrats were held back by colleagues. During that time Poncho told me he would 'get me on the way to my car.' He later approached me and reiterated that 'I had to leave at some point, and he would get me.' I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, 'get me,' I would shoot him in self defense [sic]. I am currently under DPS protection. Several of my colleagues heard the threats made and witnessed Ramon assaulting me.
Nevarez later responded to Rinaldi's allegations on Twitter and said, “He’s a liar and hateful man. Got no use for him. God bless him."
Rep. Ramon Romero told the Observer that he'd "never seen anything like this on the House floor."
See a video of the scuffle below.
VIDEO: Lawmakers in Texas House scuffle during #SINEDIE on Monday.
— KVUE News (@KVUE) May 29, 2017