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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Shots - Health News
2:33 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

In Arizona, An Unlikely Ally For Medicaid Expansion

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, points during an intense conversation with President Obama after he arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz. She has since made light of the incident in trying to rally support for a Medicaid expansion in the state.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 3:20 pm

The Arizona Legislature is debating whether to extend Medicaid to about 300,000 people in the state. The expansion is a requirement to get federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.

The big surprise is who has been leading the charge: Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. She's one of President Obama's staunchest critics and has confounded conservatives in her own party by supporting the expansion.

Google the words "Brewer" and "Obama." You'll get a now-famous image of Brewer wagging her finger at the president on the tarmac last year when she met him in Phoenix.

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U.S.
2:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Border Drones Fly Into Fight Over Immigration

A Predator drone operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine taxis for a flight over southern Arizona near the Mexican border on March 7 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 3:21 pm

The runways at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., are busy. This is where the Army tests its military drones, where it trains its drone pilots, and where four Customs and Border Protection drones take off and land.

From here, the CBP drones survey the Arizona-Mexico border — mainly looking for immigrants and drug smugglers.

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Law
2:55 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Tough Arizona Sheriff Gets Judicial Reprimand

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 10:19 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A federal judge in Arizona has ruled against the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff. The judge ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department has used racial profiling to enforce the state's tough immigration laws. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has maintained that his department has the authority to round up undocumented immigrants. NPR's Ted Robbins has been following the case and joins us now. Ted, thanks for being with us.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: You're welcome.

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U.S.
1:35 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Bill Would Put Immigration Verification System To The Test

Employers using the E-Verify program are required to post an E-Verify Participation Poster, shown here in a handout photo. A Senate bill would make participation in the system, used to check employees' immigration status, mandatory for all employers.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 2:27 pm

Some employers around the nation have been using E-Verify to check the immigration status of employees for years. Operated by the Department of Homeland Security, the online system is designed to make it harder to hire unauthorized workers — and harder for those workers to find jobs.

While participation in the program has been voluntary since 1996, the immigration bill now in the Senate would make E-Verify mandatory.

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U.S.
2:23 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

U.S. Aims To Track Foreigners Who Arrive, But Never Leave

A Customs and Border Protection officer explains to arriving international passengers at Los Angeles International Airport how to provide their fingerprints. While visitors are fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival in the U.S., they are currently not tracked upon departure.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 6:02 am

Nearly half the people now in the U.S. illegally didn't climb walls, wade across the Rio Grande or trek through the desert to get here. They arrived legally, with tourist or student visas. And when those visas expired, they just never left.

Like the rest of the 11 million undocumented people in the United States, they are part of the underground economy and the government doesn't know where they are. The Senate immigration bill now before Congress tries to address this problem — though not as richly as it does border security.

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The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
12:02 am
Thu March 7, 2013

With Budget Cuts For Ports, Produce May Perish

Border security agents stop a truck at a checkpoint on the way to Nogales, Ariz. More winter produce enters the U.S. at the border crossing than at any other point of entry in the country.
Qi Heng Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:48 am

Budget-cutting from the government sequester that began March 1 could affect U.S. exports and imports, including what we eat.

Customs and Border Protection officers regulate trade at the nation's 329 ports of entry, in harbors, airports and on land.

One by one, drivers approach booths with Customs and Border Protection officers at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz. More winter produce enters here than at any other place in the U.S. Semis filled with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers headed to grocery stores around the country.

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Around the Nation
3:13 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Sequester Cuts Free Some Immigration Detainees

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 4:37 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
2:51 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 7:26 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
1:20 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Longtime Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Dies At 80

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 3:02 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
5:16 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 8:01 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
3:15 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 7:02 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.
2:53 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 5:10 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
1:11 am
Tue December 4, 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 3:55 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
1:13 pm
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 3:26 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
2:58 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 4:12 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
8:07 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
1:17 pm
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 2:54 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
4:14 am
Sat September 22, 2012

U.S. Border Industry Grows As Immigration Slows

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 7:35 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
11:03 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 7:55 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
12:38 am
Wed September 12, 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 6:28 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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