A Republican state lawmaker prompted a scuffle in the Texas House on Monday when he told his Democratic colleagues that it had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters in the capitol who were speaking out against a new immigration law.
Republican state Rep. Matt Rinaldi acknowledged in a Facebook post that he called ICE on people protesting SB4, a new law that will allow law enforcement to ask about the immigration status of anyone they detain. When Rinaldi told his colleagues in the state House that he had called ICE, he started a verbal altercation, according to Democratic members of the state House.
Democratic state Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. told reporters that Rinaldi told them, “I called ICE — fuck them,'” according to the Texas Tribune. Romero said that Rinaldi also said “Fuck you” directly to Democratic lawmakers, per the Texas Tribune.
At that point, Democratic state Rep. Cesar Blanco noted to Rinaldi that Italian Americans were also once immigrants, according to Romero.
Blanco told reporters that Rinaldi responded, “‘The difference between me and them is that I love this country.'”
Democratic state Rep. Justin Rodriguez told reporters that Rinaldi threatened to shoot one of his colleagues.
“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,” Rodriguez said of Rinaldi, according to the Texas Observer. “That kind of threatening language he needs to be called out and held accountable for.”
In a Facebook post, Rinaldi claimed that he was assaulted by Romero and threatened by Democratic state Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez. Rinaldi said that he said he would use his gun in self-defense.
A statement regarding today. pic.twitter.com/M0BcBXa43P
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) May 29, 2017
Democratic lawmakers said that the scuffle on the House floor did not lead to any physical violence, countering Rinaldi’s claim that he was assaulted, according to the Texas Tribune.
Video captured by KVUE shows lawmakers pushing each other on the state House floor.
— KVUE News (@KVUE) May 29, 2017