Advocates for undocumented immigrants say the bizarre actions of a North Texas Republican lawmaker may be the tipping point that dooms efforts to approve 'anti Sanctuary City' laws like the one signed by Gov. Abbott last month, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
State Rep. Matt Rinaldi claimed to have called Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to investigate the residency status of a group of largely Hispanic protesters who had unfurled banners in the House gallery on Monday opposing SB 4, the bill that makes it a crime punishable by jail time for a city or county official to refuse to cooperate with immigration officials, and authorizes local police officers to check the immigration status of people they detain.
While it is disputed whether Rinaldi actually contacted ICE, State Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) says that's not the point. He says Rinaldi's actions confirmed that Anti Sanctuary City laws amount to illegal racial profiling.
"Somebody looked at a group of minorities and Latino protesters, and immediately assumed that they were all undocumented," he said.
The Texas Democrats and several groups supporting illegal immigrants say they will make sure other states which are considering similar legislation are aware of Rinaldi's actions and realize that the laws they are passing will not stand up in court.
State Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Houston) says new concerns about the Anti Sanctuary City law are just now coming out.
"The price of homes are going to increase because they won't be able to find enough labor," she said.
Two lawsuits have already been filed seeking to have SB 4 declared unconstituional, and opponents say they will use Rinaldi's statements in that case as well.