Protesters gathered outside the Willacy County courthouse Friday to voice issues with the possible reopening of the county’s correction center.

On Monday, Willacy County commissioners approved a contract to open a privately run, 1,000-bed immigration lockup at the former Raymondville detention center destroyed by prisoners during a 2015 riot.

Inside the courthouse, commissioners met in executive session for more than a hour and voted in front of the present public to approve amendments to the contract with Utah-based Management & Training Corp. and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra says the reopening of the facility will generate more jobs and boost local economy. He estimates it could generate about 400 jobs, bringing a boom to a county with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

“So, the notion that the community is not aware is just not there. I have not had a single constituent come to me and tell me since February 2015, which is when the riot happened, to not coincided reopening it. As a matter fact, it’s the opposite, ‘When is it going to open,’” Guerra said.

If MTC agrees to contract terms with the county, then the county will be reopening the correction center. 

Negotiations are still underway. 

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