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Texas House of Representatives Has Gone Full Lord of the Flies


Yesterday was the final day of the legislative session for SB4, the Texas bill (recently signed into law) that bans sanctuary cities and requires local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration policies, including asking about the immigration status of anyone detained for any reason. Opposition to SB4 is strong, not only because of the cruelty of bills like this that have the potential to destroy lives and tear families apart, but because it’s predicted to lead to an increase in crime. This sort of strict immigration law is pitched as getting criminals out of the country, completely ignoring the fact that immigrants commit crimes in much lower numbers than U.S.-born citizens. On top of that, these bills lead to more crime, because they eliminate all trust between police forces and immigrant communities, meaning any cooperation in finding actual criminals is immediately forfeited.

Naturally, then, the Texas House of Representatives was full of protesters voicing their opposition yesterday. Approximately 300 protesters filled the House floor, dropping banners and chanting messages like “We are here to stay.”

We’ve seen these kinds of large, active protests grow wildly all across the country over the last few months. And more and more, we’ve been seeing legislators become increasingly unable to cope. I thought newly-elected Congressman Greg Gianforte bodyslamming a reporter for asking about health care was rock bottom, but then Texas happened.

The flailing descent into madness apparently started when Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi told a group of Latino Democrat lawmakers that he’d called ICE on the protesters. (“Fuck them. I called ICE” are reportedly his exact words.) Reps. Rep. Ramon Romero allegedly shoved Rinaldi in response and Rep. Poncho Nevárez‏ told him he’d “get him” on the way to his car. Rinaldi responded by saying he’d shoot Nevárez‏ in self-defense.

Nevárez‏ confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he also shoved Rinaldi because where he comes from, “those are fighting words.” He admitted, “We should never condone pushing and shoving but the guy asked for it…I put my hands on him because he needed to get out of there.”

Officially, I have to agree with Rinaldi that violence isn’t the answer. Also officially, calling immigration services on a group of people whom you know nothing about except the color of their skin is 100% racist and exactly what opponents of SB4 are afraid will become common practice.

We’ll say this for Nevárez‏: He sure does have a way with words. He asked BuzzFeed, “How low and sniveling do you have to be to that kind of person, that guy is lower that rattler piss?” As he puts it, “We need to get these protesters motivated to not just come out to disrupt the chamber but come out to vote.” Because protests might be inconvenient, but they’re an American right, and signify a passionate, involved populace. And if that scares you, and you think the only option is to threaten to shoot some people and arrest others, maybe the House of Representatives isn’t the best place for you.

(via BuzzFeed News, featured image: TSLAC / Flickr)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.