Tempers flared in at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday afternoon when a debate over tightening immigration laws (i.e. Senate Bill 4) turned into a scuffle filled with ungentlemanly language and threats.
It all began after State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) said he called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on hundreds of protesters dressed in red t-shirts chanting in opposition to the immigration law.
Rinaldi said in a statement on Facebook that after his actions enraged state Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass) and other Hispanic lawmakers to where his life was threatened. He’s now under protective custody by the Department of Public Safety.
“Today, Representative Poncho Nevarez threatened my life on the House floor after I called ICE on several illegal immigrants who held signs in the gallery which said ‘I am illegal and here to stay.'” Rinaldi wrote noting that several Democrats encouraged the protesters to break the law. “When I told the Democrats I called ICE, Representative Ramon Romero physically assaulted me, and other Democrats were held back by colleagues.”
He continued. “During that time Poncho told me that he would “get me on the way to my car.” He later approached me and reiterated that “I had to leave at some point, and he would get me.” I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, “get me,” I would shoot him in self defense.”
Nevarez has responded to the allegations on Twitter by calling Rinaldi a “liar”:
He's a liar and hateful man. Got no use for him. God bless him. https://t.co/te13An7gwm— Rep. Poncho Nevárez (@poncho_nevarez) May 29, 2017
That is weak. Calling ICE on who? Brown people? Cause they're brown? There you have Exhibit A SB 4 will play out. Exit stage left, coward. https://t.co/1nlzbBxQl9— Rep. Poncho Nevárez (@poncho_nevarez) May 29, 2017
Watch the whole scuffle below: