Hundreds of protesters showed up to the Texas Legislature Monday during the last day of the year’s regular session. They were there to speak out against Senate Bill 4, the “show me your papers” law already signed by Gov. Greg Abbott that bans sanctuary cities and criminalizes law enforcement decisions to ignore immigration agent requests.
Wearing red and unfurling banners that said, “See you in court,” the protesters filed into the state House’s gallery, disrupting a normally banal last-day session, The Texas Tribune reported.
But while law enforcement officers were trying to break up the protest and usher demonstrators out of the building, an argument broke out among lawmakers. That’s when Republican State Rep. Matt Rinaldi allegedly told his Latino colleagues that he had called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to arrest the protesters.
Rep. César Blanco told the Tribune that, “He came up to us and said, ‘I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported.’”
Rinaldi “got into people’s faces,” Blanco said. Blanco said he pointed out that Rinaldi is an Italian name and that the Irish and Italians were once treated poorly in this country.
“He said, ‘the difference between me and them is that I love this country,’” said Blanco, who added: “It’s just disrespectful.”
Rinaldi, whose term expires in 2019, also claimed that other lawmakers had threatened his life. If you want to send him condolences, here’s his official contact information.
Update: Rinaldi is now doubling down on his actions by claiming he was victimized and admitting that he threatened to shoot Rep. Poncho Nevárez. Here’s his statement:
Stay classy, dude. Like the guy you threatened: