IRVING, Tx. – A Republican lawmaker in Texas is facing scrutiny after he allegedly called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on his sixty-four year-old mother-in-law following a dinner table dispute over immigration policy.
Immigration authorities say State Representative Matt Rinaldi (R-Tx) called the ICE field office in Dallas, Texas, Tuesday night to report a “possible undocumented immigrant” lurking in his backyard. Moments after heavily armed ICE agents, backed by an armored MRAP vehicle, broke down the door of Mr. Rinaldi’s downtown Irving estate, authorities say they quickly learned the alleged undocumented immigrant was actually the congressman’s mother-in-law.
“Based on our initial investigation, we believe an argument about immigration legislation led to a call being placed to the Dallas field office,” a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told the Dallas Morning News. In a statement to ICE agents obtained by The Washington Post, Mr. Rinaldi stated that his mother-in-law had “berated him in front of the family” over his stance on immigration and pointedly asked what he would do if she were an illegal immigrant. “At that time, the victim became fearful for his safety and removed himself from the situation before contacting ICE,” the report states.
Neighbors say Tuesday night’s episode isn’t the first time Congressman Rinaldi has reported someone to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Brian Miller, a Democrat who lives across the street from Mr. Rinaldi told KDFW, a Dallas-Forth Worth Fox affiliate, that ICE agents raided his home in April. “We were hosting a birthday party for our eleven year-old daughter and they showed up with their guns drawn,” Miller explained, saying he later learned authorities received a tip from “a concerned neighbor” that his home was being used as an MS-13 drug den. Miller spent four days in an immigration detention facility before he was allowed to see an attorney who could prove he was a U.S. citizen.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will not seek charges against the Republican lawmaker for filing false reports. “Representative Rinaldi is a close friend and a staunch supporter of ICE,” DHS spokesperson Hank Schrader told reporters before adding, “Earlier this week, Mr. Rinaldi assisted ICE in locating and apprehending a veritable swarm of illegal immigrants who had breached the Texas House of Representatives.”