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Session ends in chaos

Seems fitting.

The normally ceremonial last day of this year’s regular session of the Texas Legislature briefly descended into chaos on Monday, as proceedings in the House were disrupted by large protests and at least one Republican representative called immigration authorities on the people making the noise.

Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, said he called U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement while hundreds of people dressed in red T-shirts unfurled banners and chanted in opposition to the state’s new sanctuary cities law. The action enraged Hispanic legislators nearby, leading to a tussle in which each side accused the other of threats and violence.

Rinaldi said he was assaulted by a House member who he declined to name.

“I was pushed, jostled and someone threatened to kill me,” Rinaldi said. “It was basically just bullying.”

Hispanic Democratic lawmakers involved in the altercation said it wasn’t physical but indicated that Rinaldi got into people’s faces and cursed repeatedly.

“He came up to us and said, ‘I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported,’” said state Rep. César Blanco, D-El Paso, whose account was echoed by state Reps. Armando Walle, D-Houston, and Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth.

“He said, ‘I called ICE — fuck them,'” Romero added. Rinaldi also turned to the Democratic lawmakers and yelled, “Fuck you,” to the “point where spit was hitting” their faces, Romero said.

[…]

“Matt Rinaldi gave the perfect example of why there’s a problem with SB 4,” said state Rep. Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth. “Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented. He racial profiled every single person that was in the gallery today. He created the scenario that so many of us fear.”

And in a press conference, following the altercation, state Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, said Rinaldi in a second scuffle had threatened to “put a bullet in one of my colleagues’ heads.”

But Rinaldi defended the decision to called immigration authorities.

“We didn’t know what to do,” he said. “A lot of people had signs that said ‘We are illegal and here to stay.’”

He said he called law enforcement “to incentivize them to leave the House.”

“They were disrupting,” he said. “They were breaking the law.”

Asked if the protest was too little, too late since the measure has already been signed into law, Adrian Reyna, an organizer with United We Dream, said the movement is just getting started.

“We have to show resistance the whole summer,” he said. “We have identified key representatives that we will take out of office who voted for SB4. People are outraged, people are tired of the Legislature walking all over people.”

First of all, good Lord Rinaldi is a weenie. What a pathetic display of phony bravado. And as Rep. Romero suggests, his words will only help the plaintiffs in the anti-SB4 litigation. Words matter, and judges in the travel ban litigation have made it clear they will take what politicians say about these actions as seriously as they take what the lawyers say.

You can see video of what happened here, Democratic response to what happened here, and a statement from the AFL-CIO here. If there’s going to be an injunction in one or more of the court cases, we ought to know fairly soon, but the bigger fight, both in the courtroom and at the ballot box, will play out over a much longer period. We’re going to need to see a lot more of the kind of action that makes people like Matt Rinaldi cry. The Chron, the Observer, and RG Ratcliffe have more.

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13 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Here’s Rinaldi’s Facebook post about the incident.

    “Matt Rinaldi
    16 hrs ·

    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.” Several Democrats encouraged the protestors to disobey law enforcement. When I told the Democrats I called ICE, Representative Ramon Romero physically assaulted me, and other Democrats were held back by colleagues. 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. I am currently under DPS protection. Several of my colleagues heard the threats made and witnessed Ramon assaulting me.”

    Video of incident:

    https://twitter.com/KVUE/status/869266776651116544/video/1

  2. paul a kubosh says:

    “Good Lord Rinaldi is a weenie.”

    I would have to agree. What are you going to do call ICE on every single person in the State of Texas. This type of reaction to a small group of protesters is not the right way to handle this. Romero is worse for assaulting Rinaldi. Just a bunch of weenies.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    @Paul,

    Calling ICE to deal with disruptive people who self identify as illegal (not “undocumented”) seems like a very reasonable course of action, no different than calling HPD out to deal with protestors blocking the lanes of SH 288, preventing traffic from getting by. If their signs had said, “we’re here, we robbed the liquor store, deal with it,” would Rinaldi be a weenie for calling the DPS to investigate a possible crime?

    I’m a strong supporter of people’s right to protest, but at the point where that protest prevents people from doing their (legal) job, as in the case of the legislators, or prevents people from getting where they need to go, yeah, time to call the police to restore order.

    I really don’t even understand what the point of the protest was yesterday. That’s like yelling the barn door’s open when the cows have already left.

  4. Flypusher says:

    “I really don’t even understand what the point of the protest was yesterday. That’s like yelling the barn door’s open when the cows have already left.”

    It’s step one in getting people motivated to get to the polls next time. Immigration needs fixing badly. I strongly disapprove of these so called fixes that target only one side of the problem.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    @Fly:

    Reagan already fixed our immigration policy, in 1986. He legalized all the undocumented and we were supposed to actually enforce our border and immigration policies going forward, meaning that no one was supposed to overstay a visa or sneak across the border after that amnesty, and those that did, after 1986 were to be deported. I mean, I trusted Tip O’Neil, right? Trump is just fulfilling the other half of Reagan’s immigration fix. Truly, the only thing that needs to be done is have the SCOTUS interpret the 14th Amendment correctly now that Gorsuch is there to end the anchor baby program. That will prevent families from being broken up and put US policy in alignment with most of the rest of the world.

  6. neither here nor there says:

    The problem with Republicans and some Libertarians is that they are always thinking how it was 20 or 50 years ago and blaming those dang Democrats for all the problems in their lives. Whiners

    Texas has been under Republican control since George W. Bush, what have the Republicans done other than to call Democrats name. The whiners are usually just racists who want an excuse to hate so they can feel better about themselves.

  7. Flypusher says:

    Bill, as long as the “Help Wanted” sign remains posted next to the “No Trepassing”, sign, it won’t matter who is in the White House, or whether you can steal more SCOTUS seats. The quest for $ will override any real reform, and the sham will continue.

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    Neither:

    Exactly correct. Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama ALL failed at this most basic thing that every government is responsible for, defending its borders. HB4 could have been passed during the interminable “Shrub” Bush (credit: Molly Ivans, RIP) term, but it wasn’t. Our laws could have been enforced starting in 1987, but they weren’t. Lots of failure all around, Pubs and Dems have both let this country down. Bill Clinton talked about enforcing immigration law and getting the “bad hombres” out of our country, but, like a lot of politician speeches, that State of the Union address was mostly talk and no action.

  9. Bill Daniels says:

    @Fly:

    We need to start arresting the employers, start arresting the politicians that look the other way…..start enforcing the law all the way around, not just the undocumented, but also their enablers. THAT will solve the problem. Perp walk some CEOs and some politicians.

  10. neither here nor there says:

    Bill the Amnesty was to provide strong Verification which was never done, by either the Republicans or the Democrats. Texas certainly never did it, I have always supported E-Verify and that all workers including construction workers should be E-Verified. In a way we are all to blame, when Hurricane Ike struck almost all of the tree trimmers were not here legally, I talked to quite a few of them, but I can tell you most people just wanted their electricity back as September can be quite hot and humid in Houston. I was without power for about a week I certainly did not care who brought it back. Chase tower was cleaned by almost an all crew of people not here legally, I even took a picture of them.

    But don’t blame the people that come here invited, they are invited, as I write this there are farmers that are helping them to get to their farms for the picking of whatever…

  11. C. L. says:

    @Bill… Re: “We need to start arresting the employers, start arresting the politicians that look the other way…..start enforcing the law all the way around, not just the undocumented, but also their enablers. THAT will solve the problem. Perp walk some CEOs and some politicians.”

    Are we talking about the folks picking lettuce and/or buffing the floors of Chase late at night ? ‘Cause honestly, I’d rather see them on the streets than the folks at Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, etc., that almost brought the country to financial ruin less than a decade ago…and @NHNT, blame the democrats, not for their reminiscing about history, but for their inaction on THIS matter. At the end of the day, money talked and bullshit walked.

  12. neither here nor there says:

    Not sure what the last sentence is referencing but there were Americans working the fields and some still are, on my mother’s side they were migrant workers, two of my uncles are mentioned in a Supreme Court case because of the farm workers union that they belonged to. The farmers would bring in persons from Mexico to break the strike and of course the Texas Rangers and other police offices were also there to make sure that the strikers would know their place.

    Here is an article from a March that my brother and I participated in, I was not able to be there 50 years ago but my dad, uncle, and brother were there to support the farm workers.

    http://www.mystatesman.com/lifestyles/remembering-farmworkers-march-years-later/P90Fspgwed9OFncVGqcS0H/

    On Page 11 of the following is a photograph of one of my uncles who was arrested more often than anyone else. His brother and their cousin were also arrested and members of the union.

    https://libraries.ucsd.edu/farmworkermovement/ufwarchives/elmalcriado/Frankel/Strike.pdf

    I went with my grandparents every summer for 8 years to snap cotton. I know from experience how illegal immigration has hurt wages, especially the migrant worker in the 50s and 60s. We had no one to protect us as my dad used to say Mexico never wanted us and the United didn’t care until they wanted to fight, he and his brother served four year in the Pacific Theater. Family has been here since before Texas was a Republic.

  13. Bill Daniels says:

    @Neither:

    Thanks for sharing that…..seriously. I didn’t make it all the way through the strike pictorial link, but I will probably go back and read some more when I have more free time.

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