Hundreds protest sanctuary city law at Texas Capitol

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Hundreds of protesters removed Monday from the public gallery of the Texas House after their demonstration opposing a tough new immigration law were continuing to chant and cheer in the rotunda of the state Capitol.

(CNN VAN photo)

Even after police peacefully cleared the public gallery Monday, though, tensions simmered.

One Democratic lawmaker said he was enraged when a Republican joked that he was going to call federal authorities to deport the protests.

Protesters, meanwhile, reassembled inside the ground floor rotunda.

Leroy Pena of Dallas, a Lipan Apache Indian, held a sign reading: "Governor Abbott, show me your papers. I am a 15th generation Texan."

Opponents call Texas' anti-sanctuary cities law a "show your papers" law since it empowers police to inquire about peoples' immigration status during routine interactions such as traffic stops.

The raucous protest involving several hundred chanting and cheering demonstrators, some of whom blew whistles, began about 40 minutes into Monday's final floor session.

House leadership asked state troopers to clear the public gallery that rings the floor above the chamber and suspended the session.

Police fanned out and led small groups of protesters out into the hallway.

The process took about 20 minutes, and protesters continued to chant their opposition to Texas' new anti-"sanctuary cities" law throughout.

Once all the protesters were gone, the House gaveled back in and lawmakers went back to largely ceremonial final-day duties.