A wild incident occurred at the Texas Capitol on Monday as a Republican lawmaker threatened a colleague with gun violence. Monday was the final day of the regular session of the Texas Legislature, and things got out of control as protests erupted in the House Chamber. The protests were centered around an anti-sanctuary city bill that was signed into law earlier in the session by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
At the center of the controversy were Texas Representatives Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, and Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass. Rinaldi, who represents District 115 in Dallas County, took issue with a number of protesters who were disturbing the day’s proceedings while holding up signs identifying themselves as illegal immigrants. Rinaldi reported the protesters to the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE as it is commonly called. Upon doing so, Rinaldi informed his colleagues that he had reported the protesters, and it was at that point that professionalism and decorum went out the window.
The Texas Tribune spoke to Democratic lawmaker Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, who described the initial conversation with Rinaldi.
“He came up to us and said, ‘I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported.'”
What happened next appears to be a matter of perspective along party lines. The New York Times spoke with several House members after the altercation and received varied accounts regarding what had occurred. Rinaldi described an incident in which he threatened gun violence in response to a threat directed at him.
“I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, ‘get me,’ I would shoot him in self-defense.”
Rinaldi is referring to Nevarez as the lawmaker who threatened him. Nevarez, according to the same New York Times article, had this to say.
“He’s a liar and hateful man. Got no use for him. God bless him.”
Somewhere in between both accounts is the true story of what occurred. This incident wraps up what has been a turbulent session for the Texas Legislature, in which several controversial measures were either been discussed or signed into law.
The debate regarding sanctuary cities is not a new one and is not confined to the State of Texas either. President Donald Trump mentioned sanctuary cities often during his campaign and even signed an executive order centered around sanctuary cities in the first months of his presidency. Trump’s order, though, differed from the Texas law and was partially blocked just days after it was signed.
The Texas law centers around the following points.
- Ordered law enforcement to comply with ICE requests to detain illegal aliens until they can be picked up.
- Punished law enforcement agencies via fine or other measures if they do not follow the parameters of the law.
- Allowed officers to ask for proof of immigration status.
While this law is expected to be challenged in court, it has not yet faced the same scrutiny that Donald Trump’s executive order has.
The courts took issue with Trump’s order because it threatened to strip federal funding from cities that chose not to comply with all ICE regulations. The Courts sided with cities like San Francisco when they blocked part of the order by citing that it could be unconstitutional.
Whether in the State of Texas or on a national level, sanctuary city laws have sparked plenty of debate in 2017, and in some cases, things have gotten out of hand as they did in Texas on Monday.
[Featured Image by Meredith Hoffman/AP Images]