A Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters gathered at the Capitol on Monday said he threatened to shoot one of his colleagues after he promised to "get" him.
The protesters were speaking out against Senate Bill 4, which requires that cities and counties in Texas go along with federal immigration authorities who ask they detain people suspected of living in the U.S. without proper documentation, and allows local law officers to demand proof of citizenship of everyone they stop; critics are afraid this will lead to racial profiling. After the demonstrators began to chant and unfurl banners, security officers arrived and eventually started to remove them from the gallery. State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R) said he "took issues" with Democrats "bragging about how great it was and they were inciting them to break the House rules and break Texas law." He said he saw signs stating that the protesters were not legal residents, so he decided to call ICE.
"Matt Rinaldi gave the perfect example of why there's a problem with SB 4," state Rep Ramon Romero (D) said. "Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented. He racially profiled every single person that was in the gallery today. He created the scenario that so many of us fear." State Rep. César Blanco (D) said Rinaldi came up to a group of Democrats and said he "just called ICE to have all these people deported," while Romero said Rinaldi declared, "I called ICE — f—k them," before turning to another lawmaker and yelling, "F—k you" to "the point where spit was" flying in their faces.
Rinaldi claimed on Twitter that state Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D) "threatened my life on the House floor" and said "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." Nevárez told The Texas Tribune he put his hands on Rinaldi to tell him to take his argument outside the chamber, but he never threatened to harm him. Later, Nevárez tweeted that Rinaldi is a "liar and hateful man. Got no use for him. God bless him."Catherine Garcia