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FILE - In this April 26, 2017, file photo, students gather in the Rotunda at the Texas Capitol to oppose SB4, an anti-"sanctuary cities" bill that already cleared the Texas Senate and seeks to jail sheriffs and other officials who refuse to help enforce federal immigration law, as the Texas House prepares to debate the bill in Austin, Texas. Immigrant activists who lived under a now-overturned anti-“sanctuary cities” law in Arizona that empowered police to inquire about peoples’ immigration status during routine interactions like traffic stops are visiting Texas to offer tips on how to cope with similar restrictions the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature recently approved. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

A Texas lawmaker called immigration authorities on 'sanctuary city' law protesters


Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Texas Capitol on Monday to show their opposition toward the state's tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law. 

Meanwhile, a tussle broke out on the state House floor when Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) told a group of Hispanic lawmakers that he had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement to report the protesters. 

“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.

Rinaldi, however, defended his decision to call ICE.

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

He said calling immigration authorities was meant to give protesters an incentive to leave the building. 

House rules explicitly forbid spectators from cheering or jeering, according to The Statesman

That, however, didn't stop protesters from chanting "Here to stay!" and "Hey, hey, ho, ho, SB4 has got to go," loud enough to force the Texas House leadership to stop their session and clear the gallery earlier on Monday. 

The Statesman reported that the state Senate locked its gallery doors before their session was set to begin in hopes of avoiding a similar disruption. 

The new anti-"sanctuary cities" law, also known as SB4, requires Texas police chiefs and sheriffs to "comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation." If they fail to do so, they could be jailed or removed from office. 

Opponents of the law have argued that it will only encourage racial profiling and clog Texas jails. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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