The 85th legislature in the Texas House of Representatives ended today with Republican representative Matt Rinaldi accused of calling Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) on pro-immigration protesters who had entered the building.
Hundreds of people had come on Monday to speak up against SB4, a bill imposing stiff financial penalties on sanctuary cities in the state, and criminal charges for officials who implement sanctuary-style policies. SB4 passed the senate in May, and Gov. Greg Abbott has already signed it into law.
The protestors came dressed in red shirts, leading chants of "Here to stay!" and unfurling banners into the chamber.
Soon after protestors were ejected from the viewing galley, a fight broke out among Rep. Rinaldi and several Democrats. One of them, Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., said that Rinaldi had called ICE on the protestors. Rinaldi did not deny the accusation. “We didn’t know what to do,” he told the Texas Tribune. “A lot of people had signs that said ‘We are illegal and here to stay.’” He also claimed he was angered that Democrats had "incited a riot" and "threatened his life," according to The American Statesman.
Rep. Justin Rodriguez claimed in a press conference following the session that Rep. Rinaldi threatened to “put a bullet in one of my colleagues’ heads.” Rep. Romero said that Rinaldi had "racially profiled" the protestors. "Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented."
Watch video of the fight below.