Protestors gathered outside the Texas state legislature today, the last day of its regular session, in opposition to Senate Bill 4 — a bill that bans sanctuary cities and carries penalties for law enforcement who don’t assist federal immigration officials. After unfurling banners inside the House of Representatives gallery, holding signs, and chanting, the protesters were eventually cleared from the room.
The real fireworks started on the House floor soon after the protestors left when a Republican told a group of Hispanic lawmakers that he had just called ICE on the protestors.
According to several witnesses, Republican Representative Matt Rinaldi “got into people’s faces” and said, “I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported.” His comments were confirmed by Democratic lawmakers César Blanco and Armando Walle, and by Rinaldi himself.
When told that Italian immigrants were once treated poorly in America, Rinaldi reportedly scoffed. “He said, ‘the difference between me and them is that I love this country,'” Blanco told the Texas Tribune. “It’s just disrespectful.”
According to another lawmaker, Rinaldi later threatened to shoot one of the representatives.
Rinaldi claimed that one of the representatives threatened his life, but did not mention anyone specifically.
“Matt Rinaldi gave the perfect example of why there’s a problem with SB 4,” said Democrat state Rep. Ramon Romero. “Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented. He racial profiled every single person that was in the gallery today. He created the scenario that so many of us fear.”