Lawmakers scuffle, hurl threats on Texas House floor

Georgia Cordova of El Paso Texas center joins other protesters as they take part in a No Ban No Wall rally to support the rights of immigrants and oppose a border wall and support sanctuary cities at the State

Georgia Cordova of El Paso Texas center joins other protesters as they take part in a No Ban No Wall rally to support the rights of immigrants and oppose a border wall and support sanctuary cities at the State

By the end of the state legislative session in Texas on Monday, the Capitol had devolved into scuffles and grave accusations.

The fallout continues from a protest at the Texas State Capitol where even lawmakers were hurling threats.

In the wake of Monday's dramatic events, Texas Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso), called Rinaldi's behavior emblematic of the overt racism that has come to dominate the Republican Party's approach to immigration policy. On Monday, the last day of the Texas legislature's regular session, protestors filled the house gallery to oppose the controversial State Bill 4.

However, Rinaldi's action intensified emotions on the House floor.

Other Democrats claim that Rinaldi was threatening to "put a bullet in the head" of somebody.

And Nevarez made quite clear on Twitter what he thinks of Rinaldi's account of the scrum: "He's a liar and a hateful man".

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"Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented, state Rep. Ramon Romero of Fort Worth told the Tribune". Romero said numerous protestors present were activists and friends, and that the signs they carried said, "See you at the polls", nothing about breaking state or federal immigration laws.

Department of Public Safety officials eventually broke up the protest and cleared the gallery.

"I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, 'get me, ' I would shoot him in self defense", the Texas Republican said, adding he is now under official protection.

A phone message left at Rinaldi's office was not returned Tuesday but GOP colleagues rebuked accusations of racism. There were protests of that bill in the chamber; and then one lawmaker said he called immigration officials on the protesters. "It reveals what proponents of SB4 really wanted", he said. Rinaldi said he replied that he would shoot the Democrat in self defense. "After SB4, nothing was the same", he said. Rinaldi allegedly told a group of Hispanic representatives that he had called ICE on the protesters, sparking a scuffle resulting in pushing and threats.

The law requires local government and law enforcement to follow all federal immigration laws and grant all detainer requests, putting in place criminal penalties if anyone breaks the new law. The bill which continues to elicit mixed reactions bans sanctuary cities in the state allowing police to question anyone about their immigration status. And when they heard Texas had approved a crackdown on "sanctuary cities" she said they "finalized the decision". Some came from as far as Arizona to protest a "sanctuary city" crackdown that will allow police starting September to ask people during routine stops whether they're in the US legally.

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