Ted Robbins

As an NPR correspondent based in Tucson, Arizona, Ted Robbins covers the Southwest including Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

Specifically, Robbins reports on a range of issues from immigration and border security to water issues and wildfires. He covers the economy in the West with an emphasis on the housing market and Las Vegas development. He reported on the January 2011, Tucson shooting that killed six and injured many included Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

From Tombstone to Santa Fe, Phoenix to Las Vegas and Moab to Indian Country, there's no shortage of people, politics and places worth covering in the growing American Southwest. Robbins' reporting is driven by his curiosity to find, understand and communicate all sides of each story through accurate, clear and engaging coverage. In addition to his domestic work, Robbins has reported internationally in Mexico, El Salvador, Nepal and Sudan.

Robbins' reporting has been honored with numerous accolades, including two Emmy Awards: one for his story on sex education in schools, and another for his series on women in the workforce. He received a CINE Golden Eagle for a 1995 documentary on Mexican agriculture called "Tomatoes for the North."

In 2006, Robbins wrote an article for the Neiman Reports at Harvard about journalism and immigration. He was chosen for a 2009 French-American Foundation Fellowship focused on comparing European and U.S. immigration issues.

Raised in Los Angeles, Robbins became an avid NPR listener while spending hours driving (or stopped in traffic) on congested freeways. He is delighted to now be covering stories for his favorite news source.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2004, Robbins spent five years as a regular contributor to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 15 years at the PBS affiliate in Tucson, and worked as a field producer for CBS News. He worked for NBC affiliates in Tucson and Salt Lake City, where he also did some radio reporting and print reporting for USA Today.

Robbins earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and his master's degree in journalism, both from the University of California at Berkeley. He taught journalism at the University of Arizona for a decade.

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Around the Nation
1:13 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Sequester Cuts Free Some Immigration Detainees

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 2:37 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has released hundreds of immigration detainees ahead of Friday's sequester deadline. The decision was made to help bring down the agency's budget, in light of the automatic spending cuts. ICE officials are getting both praise and a lot of heat for the unusual move. NPR's Ted Robbins has the story.

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It's All Politics
12:51 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

The 'Line' For Legal Immigration Is Already About 4 Million People Long

Newly sworn-in U.S. citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in Baltimore in 2012.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 5:26 am

In the back and forth between Congress and the White House over immigration, both sides seem to agree that people now in the U.S. illegally should wait at "the back of the line" for legal residency — meaning no green card until all other immigrants get theirs.

But that presents a problem, because the wait for a green card can take decades.

Maria has been waiting in line with her husband for 16 years and counting for what the government calls a priority date for legal residency. Because she is in the U.S. without documents, Maria asked NPR to use only her first name.

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Remembrances
11:20 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Longtime Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Dies At 80

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 1:02 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The basketball world lost both a huge fan and one of its most innovative team owners today. Jerry Buss turned the Los Angeles Lakers into the NBA's glamour franchise and won 10 championships. Buss died early this morning at the age of 80. NPR's Ted Robbins has this remembrance.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Jerry Buss once said: I don't just want winners, I want champions. And, boy, did he get them. Yet when Buss was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he remembered feeling humbled back in 1979 when he bought the Lakers.

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Business
3:16 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Fla. Tomato Growers Say Mexico Trade Deal Is Rotten

J. Pat Carter AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:01 am

Half of all tomatoes eaten in the U.S. come from Mexico, and tomato growers in Florida aren't happy about that. In fact, they're willing to risk a trade war to reverse the trend.

At JC Distributing In Nogales, Ariz., one misstep and you're likely to get knocked over by a pallet full of produce. Forklifts crisscross each other carrying peppers, squash and especially tomatoes from trucks backed into the warehouse loading dock.

"This is a Mexican truck being unloaded," says JC President Jaime Chamberlain. "He's just waiting for his paperwork to get back."

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Around the Nation
1:15 am
Sun January 6, 2013

How A Community Created A Garden From Sadness

John Underhill waters flowers at a makeshift memorial for shooting victims outside the University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 20, 2011. Many of the plants and flowers at area memorials were replanted at a community garden.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 6, 2013 5:02 am

Brad Holland had big plans for the empty lot he owns in midtown Tucson, Ariz.

"This was going to be my dream house before the economy collapsed," Holland says. "I had a big empty lot and said, 'Wow, a lot of good can come out of this.' "

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U.S.
12:53 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?

A hilltop view of the 18-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border west of Nogales, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 3:10 pm

Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.

The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.

So here's the question: Is the Southwest border secure?

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Around the Nation
11:11 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Manhattan Project Sites Part Of Proposed Park

The mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity test site in the southern New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:55 am

Congress is considering whether to turn three top-secret sites involved with creating the atomic bomb into one of the country's most unusual national parks.

The Manhattan Project — the U.S. program to design and build the first atomic bomb during World War II — largely took place at three sites: Los Alamos, N.M.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Hanford, Wash. On July 16, 1945, the first test of an atomic bomb took place at a site in the southern New Mexico desert. Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, Japan, were bombed less than a month after the test.

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National Security
11:13 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Border Killings Prompt Scrutiny Over Use Of Force

Pedestrians cross the street in Nogales, Mexico, near the border with Arizona. A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 16-year-old boy who was throwing rocks near the border fence last month.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 1:26 pm

The Department of Homeland Security is examining its policy on deadly force along the U.S.-Mexico border. In less than two years, U.S. Border Patrol agents have killed 18 Mexican citizens there — including eight people who were throwing rocks.

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It's All Politics
12:51 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Race For Arizona's Open Senate Seat Gets Personal

Democrat Richard Carmona (left) and Republican Rep. Jeff Flake shake hands before Thursday's debate in Chandler, Ariz.
Ross Franklin AP

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 2:12 pm

For the first time in nearly a generation, Arizona voters will elect a new senator. Republican Sen. Jon Kyl is retiring after 18 years. His ideological successor is Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, and a lot of people expected Flake to have an easy time of it.

But recent polls suggest Democrat Richard Carmona — a former surgeon general and a Hispanic — has a shot at winning. The race has become heated, and the airwaves are filled with brutal ads.

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Around the Nation
6:07 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Border Patrol Agent's Death May Have Been Accidental

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. There's new information tonight about the shooting of two border patrol agents along the Arizona-Mexico border earlier this week. One of the agents was killed in that incident. Well, the FBI now says that there are strong preliminary indications that the shooting was accidental and only involved the agents on the scene. NPR's Ted Robbins is following the story and joins me from Tucson. And, Ted, it sounds like the FBI is saying this is a case of friendly fire. What more do you know?

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Around the Nation
11:17 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Young Illegal Immigrants Seek Work Permits

Carlos Martinez, 30, shows off his new work permit, which he received after applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Mamta Popat Arizona Daily Star

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 12:54 pm

It's been more than a month since the government began accepting requests for its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama administration's policy for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Hundreds of thousands of people are eligible for the program. So far, only 82,000 have applied.

Carlos Martinez is one of the 29 people who have actually gotten deferrals. It means that he won't be deported, and that he can get a work permit. Martinez applied for the deferred action program the first day.

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Around the Nation
3:03 am
Sat September 22, 2012

U.S. Border Industry Grows As Immigration Slows

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 5:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's been more than a quarter century since the federal government enacted any immigration legislation which wasn't about enforcement and over that time, the government has spend hundreds of billions of dollars on fences, aircrafts, detention centers and agents. NPR's Ted Robbins looks at what taxpayer money has bought and why it's not likely to go away, even as budgets shrink and illegal immigration lessens.

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Music Interviews
9:03 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Calexico: Road Songs For Wandering Souls

John Convertino and Joey Burns have been performing as Calexico since 1996. Their latest album is called Algiers.
Jairo Zavala Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat September 15, 2012 5:55 am

At 11 a.m. on a weekday, Calexico rehearses for its upcoming tour in a cramped studio on the south side of Tucson, Ariz. The stereotypical musician would just be getting up, but lead singer and songwriter Joey Burns has been up since dawn with his twin baby girls.

Trumpet player Jacob Valenzuela arrives late to the rehearsal — and that's because his washing machine broke and he had to deal with a small flood. Valenzuela grabs his trumpet as the band launches into "Splitter," the first single from Calexico's new album.

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Law
10:38 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

U.S. Grows An Industrial Complex Along The Border

A Border Patrol agent offers water to two men caught after illegally entering the U.S. through the Arizona desert. Roughly 80,000 federal workers have jobs related to immigration enforcement.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 4:28 pm

The United States' southern border bristles with technology and manpower designed to catch illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Since 1986, the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on fences, aircraft, detention centers and agents.

But even as federal budgets shrink and illegal immigration ebbs, experts say that there's no end in sight for the growth of the border-industrial complex.

A Growing Investment On The Border

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Around the Nation
10:34 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Young Illegal Immigrants Seek To Avoid Deportation

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 3:21 am

Young people brought to the U.S. illegally began applying for a deportation deferral and a two-year work permit on Wednesday. It's the boldest immigration program yet by the Obama administration — putting into effect elements of the so-called DREAM Act even though it has not passed Congress.

Lizbeth Mateo has high school and college diplomas from California and evidence that she has been in the country continuously for at least five years. What she wants now is assurance that she won't be deported.

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Dead Stop
10:40 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

A Wild Resting Place For Gunslingers And Cowboys

The Boot Hill cemetery in Tombstone, Ariz., is filled with the graves of men who met their end in the Wild West. While there are many such cemeteries in the Western U.S., Tombstone's is considered the most famous.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 4:03 am

If you're from a state once considered the "Old West," odds are you've heard of a Boot Hill graveyard. Turns out there are a number of Boot Hill cemeteries in the West, so named because many of their inhabitants died violently — with their boots on.

But of all the Boot Hill cemeteries, none is as famous as Boot Hill in Tombstone, Ariz.

It's a tough-looking place. No lawn, just gravel, mesquite trees and cactus. The graves are covered with stones to keep varmints from digging up the bones.

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Law
12:00 am
Tue August 7, 2012

Loughner's Attorneys Bargain To Save His Life

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 9:39 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Arizona, the man accused of shooting Gabrielle Giffords at a gathering of her constituents in Tucson last year will be in court today. Jared Loughner allegedly killed six people in that attack and wounded 13 others. He was declared mentally unfit to stand trial, but now that may change. As NPR's Ted Robbins reports, Loughner's lawyers are expected to offer a deal to help him avoid the death penalty.

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Law
1:05 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio Grilled On Racial Profiling

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 3:12 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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Law
10:04 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Controversial Ariz. Sheriff's Tactics Go On Trial

A trial begins Thursday in Phoenix accusing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, seen in this May 3, 2010, file photo, of violating the civil rights of Latino citizens and legal U.S. residents.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 5:04 am

The self-proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff in America" is facing one of his toughest tests. A trial begins Thursday morning in Phoenix accusing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of violating the civil rights of Latino citizens and legal U.S. residents. The class-action civil suit says the sheriff went over the line in his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

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Animals
11:17 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Wild Mustangs Give Patrol Horsepower On The Border

Border Patrol Agent Bobbi Schad pets a mustang at the agency's training facility in Willcox, Ariz., last August.
Joshua Lott Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 5:26 pm

It's all new for Achilles: his name, his horseshoes, the surroundings at his home near Nogales, Ariz.

"To break 'em from what they're focusing on, you want to turn 'em from one side to the next," Border Patrol agent Luis Navarro says as he carefully leads Achilles into a round training arena.

Navarro holds the mustang by a short lead, and teaches it commands to trot and to slow down.

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Architecture
12:13 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Still Unimplemented, Ariz. Law Has Chilling Effect

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 1:49 pm

It will be weeks — maybe longer — before the one part of Arizona's immigration law the Supreme Court left standing goes into effect. A lower court has to remove its injunction before local police are required to ask about immigration status. But as NPR's Ted Robbins reports, there's already been a backlash.

Law
12:18 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

High Court Leaves Core Of Immigration Law Intact

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 12:27 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

To the Supreme Court now and a much-anticipated decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law. The justices struck down most of SB1070, as the law is known. But the court did unanimously allow one key provision to take effect, and that's giving both sides reason to claim victory. We'll delve more deeply into the ruling with Nina Totenberg elsewhere in the program, but now to reaction from Arizona and NPR's Ted Robbins.

And Ted, let's start first with the three provisions of this law that were blocked. What were they?

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Politics
2:00 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Ariz. Voters Pick Giffords' Aide To Replace Her

Voters in Southern Arizona decided Tuesday who will replace former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for the remainder of her term: her former district director, Ron Barber. Giffords resigned from Congress in January to focus on recovery from injuries she suffered in a shooting in early 2011. Barber was also injured. His Republican opponent, Tucson businessman Jesse Kelly, narrowly lost to Giffords two years ago.

Around the Nation
12:09 am
Fri May 25, 2012

In Ariz. Contest, A Debate Over Government's Reach

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 5:22 am

Voters in southern Arizona's 8th Congressional District are deciding who will fill the seat formerly held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The Democrat resigned in January, a year after she was badly injured by a gunman at a district event in Tucson.

Giffords' resignation set in motion a special election to serve out the rest of her two-year term. Giffords' former district director, Ron Barber, won the Democratic nomination uncontested. Jesse Kelly easily beat three opponents in the Republican primary.

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Around the Nation
12:27 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Plans To Fight DOJ Lawsuit

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 2:10 am

The Department of Justice has announced it is suing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio because of civil rights violations. He became a controversial figure for his tough stance on immigrants. Arpaio says he will not surrender his office and will fight the suit.

Crisis In The Housing Market
10:05 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Some Housing Markets Rebound, But Bargains Scarce

While some sections of Arizona's housing market have shown signs of recovery, potential homebuyers who are looking for affordable houses have been frustrated. This file photo from 2008 shows a subdivision extending into desert scrubland.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 4:12 am

The real estate market has turned around in some parts of the U.S., but many buyers aren't seeing true bargains anymore. Investors are driving up prices, and inventory is low, especially for homes priced under $250,000. That's not great news for anyone hoping to buy an affordable house to live in.

Arizona is home to one of the nation's extraordinary turnarounds. The Phoenix-area median home price rose 20 percent over the past year — 6 percent in March alone. And Tucson was recently named the nation's best market for investors. But the easy money has already been made.

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