The Christian Science Monitor

For Texas town, reopening a detention center means jobs – and mixed emotions

The family-owned Armando's Boot Company in downtown Raymondville, Texas, has maintained a healthy trade in selling high-quality boots across the state and the country. Source: Henry Gass/The Christian Science Monitor

When you take the Raymondville exit off I-69 East, you’re greeted almost immediately by a stand of palm trees and a ‘For Sale’ sign. 

One of the first sights on the edge of Raymondville are the crumbling brick walls and disintegrating roofs of packing sheds that used to employ hundreds of people helping store and ship the region’s agricultural produce. Farther in, the present-day economy comes into clearer focus. Taquerias and snow-cone stands are flanked like missing teeth by boarded up homes and shops. Decades-old local stores face down chain stores and converted restaurants across the hot, cactus-lined sidewalks.

What is hidden off the main roads is what has really been keeping this small south Texas town of 11,000 people afloat in recent years: prisons.

Small towns across the Rio Grande Valley have struggled economically since America’s farm belt moved further north in the late 1960s, and prisons – immigrant

‘Ritmo’‘We do what’s best for the whole community’Hope the inmates are treated fairlyA changing Main Street

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