Texas representatives trade assault, threat allegations amid illegal immigration debate

Democratic members of the Texas Legislature allegedly assaulted and threatened a Republican colleague on Monday after the Republican called immigration authorities to report illegal immigrants who were protesting on site, according to The Washington Times.

The altercation, according to Republican Representative Matt Rinaldi, started after he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in response to repeated interruptions of the day’s proceedings from illegal-immigrant demonstrators.

According to a Twitter post from Rinaldi, “several Democrats encouraged the protestors to disobey law enforcement.”


“When I told the Democrats that I called ICE, Representative Ramon Romero physically assaulted me, and other Democrats were held back by colleagues,” Rinaldi wrote. “During that time Poncho told me that he would ‘get me on the way to the 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.”

Romero disagreed with Rinaldi’s explanation of events. “Countless members witnessed ‘the scuffle,’” Romero wrote on Twitter, “and they will all tell you no assault occurred.”

Representative Poncho Nevarez, who Rinaldi accused of threatening him, labeled Rinaldi a “liar and hateful man.”

Hispanic Democratic lawmakers involved in the altercation told The Texas Tribune it wasn’t physical, but indicated that Rinaldi got into people’s faces and cursed repeatedly. Video shot from the House floor and posted on Facebook shows both Republicans and Democrats pushing each other.  

“He came up to us and said, ‘I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported,'” state Rep. César Blanco, D-El Paso, told the Texas Tribune. The demonstrators were protesting the recent signing of the SB-4 law.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation earlier in May as part of an effort to remain consistent with federal immigration law. The law effectively bans sanctuary city policies in Texas and gives law enforcement officers the ability to ask the immigration status of people they stop.

Officers who don’t comply with federal immigration agents could face jail time and fines.

Read more from The Texas Tribune.