Tensions broke out on Monday, May 28, on the Texas House floor amid house representatives as a protest in opposition to an "anti-immigration" bill was in motion. Democrats claimed Republican Matt Rinaldi threatened to “put a bullet in the head” of Democrat Pancho Nevarez after the two got into an argument over the erupting protest against SB4 broke out inside the chamber. Protesters wore T-shirts with the words "Lucha" and "Fight" on them and chanted "Hey, hey, ho, ho, SB4 has got to go". This ignited confrontation between several Texas lawmakers and a near brawl.

SB4 and the Controversy of the Law

SB4, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbot earlier this month, is designed to require police forces in “sanctuary cities” to comply with federal regulation. Sanctuary cities are cities that are resisting federal immigration law crackdowns to protect undocumented people living there. SB4 is being called a “show me your papers law” similar to a 2010 Arizona law that encourages racial profiling by law enforcement and is extremely controversial.

Lawsuits have been filed against SB4 and are clearly a huge point of tension between Texas lawmakers. The only thing making undocumented people “illegal” is the law itself which is in the hands of lawmakers themselves. Many protected under the DREAMers Act still fear what could happen if SB4 is enforced in areas like Austin.

SB4 and the "show me your papers law" in Arizona allows law enforcement to stop and question anyone without reason and ask to see documentation. This is largely controversial between lawmakers and the public.

Tensions and Confrontation Arise

Protesters charged the floor during the vote some with signs reading messages like, “Illegal and here to stay.” Republican lawmaker Matt Rinaldi reportedly bragged about calling ICE as the protesters arrived in hopes undocumented protesters would be arrested and deported.

Rinaldi later claimed to have been assaulted by Democratic colleague Cesar Blanco on the floor and said he would only shoot Naverez in self-defense. Democrats were outraged at Rinaldi's threat to Naverez. Both sides are claiming to have been threatened.

It is not entirely clear who did or didn't threaten who on the House floor. It is clear, however, that immigration is an extremely controversial and divided topic between Democrats and Republicans. SB4 was not voted on due to the protest and scuttle between lawmakers.