Heated immigration debate led to Texas lawmakers' scuffle

Lauren Perry
May 31, 2017

Several other representatives said they also saw Rinaldi claim he called ICE.

"He was just looking for a fight", Cortez said of Rinaldi. "That's not acceptable. We won't be intimidated and we won't be disrespected".

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

The noise drowned out lawmakers, leading the House session to be stopped and state troopers called in to remove the protesters. They were there to protest SB 4, which bans so-called "sanctuary cities" and allows local police to ask someone about their immigration status when lawfully detained. "There was a threat made from Representative Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleagues' head", said Democratic Rep. Justin Rodriguez.

Discussing the fracas, Bolduan and CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera discussed the representative's scuffle, and Bolduan called the assault "democracy in action" after showing a clip of the scuffle. "We were waving, and that's when he chose to come by us and tell us that he called ICE", Romero said.

"I think there are some people in some moments that bring out racism. He wants to see them gone so much, to the point that he called ICE".

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"Lastly, even if ICE did receive a call, the protest would have likely been off-limits - covered by the "sensitive location" policy, preventing ICE from making arrests/questioning individuals at the protest", ABC said.

A phone message left at Rinaldi's office was not returned Tuesday but GOP colleagues rebuked accusations of racism.

Nevarez went on to explain that Rinaldi had promised to call immigration agents on protesters in the House gallery, which prompted the scuffle that involved several lawmakers. Democrats were shocked by Rinaldi's comments.

"I think yesterday was the symptom of what's been a hard, challenging and emotional session. I am now under DPS protection", he said. He says has seen men in the state House "act like boys" before, but our new political climate is changing the game. About 43 percent of Texas residents are white, while whites make up the majority of legislators.

Tensions between Republicans and Democrats boiled over on the floor of the Texas Legislature on Monday as protesters filled the gallery on the last day of the session to denounce a new law cracking down on cities giving sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Greg Abbott signed into law.

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

Other reports by VgToday

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