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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NPR Story
5:39 am
Sun May 26, 2013

Tornado Upends Okla. Doctor's Practice With Patients In Need

Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 7:13 am

Dr. Keith Layne's practice was destroyed in the tornado that hit Moore, Okla. Now the family practice doctor is scrambling to treat patients while worrying about their mental and physical health.

Law
8:03 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Tough Arizona Sheriff Gets Judicial Reprimand

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 1:19 pm

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.
5:01 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 5:27 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.
5:23 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 9:02 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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Economy
4:46 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Housing Recovery Offers Little Comfort To Family Whose Home Is Underwater

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 7:55 pm

The steady stream of good news about the recovering housing market isn't without its limits. Thad Salter and his family live in the Phoenix suburb of Maricopa since moving from California in 2006. He's seen his home drop in value by more than half and has been underemployed as an human resources professional since 2008. NPR's Ted Robbins reports that, for the Salters, the housing news isn't as good as reports in the housing industry would suggest.

Sports
4:47 am
Mon March 25, 2013

'Hat Guys' Meet In Vegas To Gamble On NCAA Tourney

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 8:34 am

Thousands of people were expected in Las Vegas for the first weekend of NCAA men's college basketball tournament. It's one of the most lucrative weekends in Las Vegas. Casino officials say it draws more people than the Super Bowl.

The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
3:02 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 1:48 pm

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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Sports
5:33 am
Tue March 5, 2013

U.S. Readies For Play In World Baseball Classic

With baseball gone from the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic is the only international professional baseball tournament. Former Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he put on a uniform again to manage the U.S. team because it's a privilege.

It's All Politics
5:00 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 10:26 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
5:51 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Creator Of Lakers' Dynasties, Owner Jerry Buss Dies

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 9:16 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Jerry Buss died yesterday at the age of 80, a very important guy to sports fans here in Southern California. He transformed the Los Angeles Lakers from a good pro basketball team into a great one. During the 34 years Jerry Buss owned them, the Lakers won more games than any other NBA team and took 10 league titles. He also changed the Lakers into the NBA's glamour team, bringing modern showmanship to the league.

NPR's Ted Robbins has this remembrance.

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Remembrances
4:39 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Longtime Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Dies At 80

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 6:02 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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Environment
5:23 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

In Arizona, Some Retirees Caught In Never-Ending Battle With Invasive Species

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We go now to Arizona, a magnet for retirees, and for some the answer to the question how should I spend my spare time is this: How about swinging a pick axe in the desert? NPR's Ted Robbins sent this postcard from Ironwood Forest National Monument.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: This must be Gary Borax's idea of a good time because he keeps coming back.

GARY BORAX: I've probably been out here 30, 40 times over the years and nearly half of those buffel grass-related.

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Business
8:04 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 11:01 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
6:15 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 10:02 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.
5:53 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 8:10 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
4:11 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 6:55 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
4:13 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 6:26 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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Election 2012
4:32 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Some Arizona Counties Still Counting Ballots

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 5:20 pm

The wheels of democracy turn slowly in Arizona. The state is still counting ballots from Election Day in a number of counties — and a number of races hang in the balance.

Presidential Race
5:35 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Obama, Romney Begin Final Swing State Tours

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 6:42 pm

It's a tight race in Nevada, where the vaunted Democratic machine is being challenged by Republicans. The GOP hopes a higher turnout will counter a Democratic registration advantage. Unions — which have half Hispanic membership — and the Obama campaign are doggedly pursuing every voter. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign's Nevada team is doing the same. Early voting ends Friday.

It's All Politics
6:18 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 7:12 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
11:07 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
4:17 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 5:54 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
7:21 am
Sat September 22, 2012

U.S. Border Industry Grows As Immigration Slows

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 10:35 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
2:03 am
Sat September 15, 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 10:55 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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Presidential Race
5:45 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Polls Show A Tight Race In Nevada

President Obama is scheduled to campaign in Colorado on Thursday, while late Wednesday, he visited another battleground state in the West — Nevada. Polls indicate the race is tight. That's partly because Republican candidate Mitt Romney and PACS supporting him are spending a lot to get their message across. Still, it may be tough to turn Nevada red.

Law
3:38 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 9:28 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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Election 2012
5:46 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Ann Romney, Janna Ryan Campaign In Tampa

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 6:31 am

It was Ann Romney and Janna Ryan's turn to campaign in Tampa Wednesday. The wives of the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates made a pitch to female voters. And Mrs. Romney reached out to Latinos.

Politics
6:57 am
Wed August 29, 2012

GOP Rising Star: Gov. Martinez Is A Former Democrat

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 4:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And we'll be covering the impact of Hurricane Isaac throughout the morning on the program. Let's turn now to Tampa and the Republican convention. This evening, delegates will hear from Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico. She's the nation's first Hispanic female governor. The GOP feels Martinez showcases the party's diversity. They hope she'll help attract Hispanic voters. But there's another reason Governor Martinez is a jewel for Republicans - she was once a Democrat. Here's NPR's Ted Robbins.

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Election 2012
5:02 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

GOP Delegates Learn Policy From Gingrich At 'Newt U'

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 6:23 pm

Every day at the convention in Tampa, Newt Gingrich — the former House Speaker and a former college professor — will hold a two hour policy workshop.

Around the Nation
3:34 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Young Illegal Immigrants Seek To Avoid Deportation

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 8:21 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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