FHWA Attempts to Skirt Law, Force TxDOT to Pay Housing Benefits to Illegal Aliens

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Washington, January 25, 2017 | Elizabeth Peace (202-225-7742) | comments

Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) released a statement today in support of the Texas Department of Transportation.

Prior to leaving office, President Obama’s administration and the Federal Highway Administration broke an agreement with TxDOT by attempting to force the agency to pay relocation benefits to illegal aliens in violation of state and federal law.

TxDOT has worked to pay fair market value and relocation costs for residents in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Corpus Christi as part of a critical infrastructure project replacing the aging Harbor Bridge.

“TxDOT has worked with hundreds of property owners to ensure they receive fair market value and relocation costs for their property in order to complete the Harbor Bridge, a much-needed project for the community,” Congressman Farenthold said. “For the Obama Administration to go back on their approval agreement and try to force TxDOT to break the law by paying benefits to illegal aliens is unconscionable. I’ve been working with TxDOT and the Port of Corpus Christi to resolve this issue for several weeks. I have great confidence that with a Trump Administration, this will be set right.”

Background:

In 2015, TxDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) entered into an agreement whereby TxDOT would implement several programs for residents of the Hillcrest neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas. Under the Acquisition Program, TxDOT will purchase eligible neighborhood properties whose owners wish to sell. Eligible residents of a purchased property (whether tenants, owners, or businesses) can then participate in the Relocation Program, under which they will receive financial assistance in relocating from the neighborhood. The terms of the programs fall under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

FHWA is attempting to force TxDOT to pay relocation benefits to landlords who do not occupy the residences and therefor only qualify for fair market cost for the property, but not moving costs. FHWA is also attempting to force TxDOT to pay housing benefits and relocation costs for those in the country illegally, which is a violation of federal and state law.

Texas state law prohibits TxDOT from making relocation payments to undocumented aliens. Under the Texas Property Code (Title 4, Sec. 21.046), a state agency may pay relocation benefits no greater than what federal relocation law specifies. Federal law (8 U.S. Code § 1611) directs that payments of relocation benefits to undocumented aliens be prohibited.

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