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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5:53pm

Thu December 20, 2012
U.S.

Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 8:10 pm

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

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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4:11am

Tue December 4, 2012
Around the Nation

Manhattan Project Sites Part Of Proposed Park

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:55 am

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

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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4:13pm

Sat November 24, 2012
National Security

Border Killings Prompt Scrutiny Over Use Of Force

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 6:26 pm

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

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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6:18pm

Fri October 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Race For Arizona's Open Senate Seat Gets Personal

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 7:12 pm

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

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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11:07pm

Fri October 5, 2012
Around the Nation

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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4:17pm

Wed September 26, 2012
Around the Nation

Young Illegal Immigrants Seek Work Permits

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 5:54 pm

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

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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7:21am

Sat September 22, 2012
Around the Nation

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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2:03am

Sat September 15, 2012
Music Interviews

Calexico: Road Songs For Wandering Souls

Originally published on Sat September 15, 2012 10:55 am

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

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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5:45am

Thu September 13, 2012
Presidential Race

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.

3:38am

Wed September 12, 2012
Law

U.S. Grows An Industrial Complex Along The Border

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 9:28 pm

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

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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3:34am

Wed August 15, 2012
Around the Nation

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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3:40am

Tue August 14, 2012
Dead Stop

A Wild Resting Place For Gunslingers And Cowboys

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 9:03 am

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

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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5:23am

Thu August 2, 2012
Around the Nation

Ariz. Activists Rally For Votes Against Sheriff Arpaio

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 9:17 am

Rosa Maria Soto protests Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio outside the federal courthouse on July 19 in Phoenix. It was the first day of a trial that accuses Arpaio's office of racially profiling Latinos.
Matt York AP

Testimony is scheduled to end Thursday in the racial-profiling suit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff faces a class-action civil suit on behalf of Latino citizens and legal residents in Maricopa County.

The plaintiffs say deputies stopped and detained them because of the color of their skin. As lawyers fight Arpaio in the courtroom, activists outside are using the trial as a rallying point against the sheriff in his upcoming election.

'Adios Arpaio'

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6:05am

Wed July 25, 2012
Law

Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio Grilled On Racial Profiling

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 8:12 am

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio made a court appearance Tuesday and faced questioning. Arpaio is accused of racial profiling in a civil class-action lawsuit.

3:04am

Thu July 19, 2012
Law

Controversial Ariz. Sheriff's Tactics Go On Trial

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 10:04 am

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

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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4:17pm

Fri June 29, 2012
Animals

Wild Mustangs Give Patrol Horsepower On The Border

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 10:26 pm

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

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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6:05pm

Wed June 27, 2012
Architecture

Still Unimplemented, Ariz. Law Has Chilling Effect

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 6:49 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.

4:58am

Tue June 26, 2012
Law

Ariz. Gov. Brewer Calls Supreme Court Ruling A Win

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 8:25 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's return, now, to the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer. As we heard a moment ago, she's calling this a win, even though the Court struck down most of the Arizona law and said it would wait and see how the show me your papers provision is applied.

GOVERNOR JAN BREWER: Arizona's and every other state's inherent authority to protect and defend its people has been upheld.

INSKEEP: Governor Brewer is one of many Arizona voices responding to the ruling. Here's NPR's Ted Robbins.

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5:13pm

Mon June 25, 2012
Law

High Court Leaves Core Of Immigration Law Intact

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 5:27 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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6:03am

Wed June 13, 2012
Politics

Ariz. Voters Pick Giffords' Aide To Replace Her

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 7:00 am

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.

5:09am

Fri May 25, 2012
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 10:22 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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5:27am

Fri May 11, 2012
Around the Nation

Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Plans To Fight DOJ Lawsuit

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 7:10 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.

3:05am

Tue May 1, 2012
Crisis In The Housing Market

Some Housing Markets Rebound, But Bargains Scarce

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 9:12 am

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

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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4:57pm

Tue April 24, 2012
Animals

A Bug's Life: Store Caters To Collectors Of Crawly Pets

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 6:49 pm

The Poecilotheria metallica is a species of tarantula that reflects a metallic blue color. It is just one of many tarantulas for sale in Ken "The Bug Guy" MacNeil's pet store. Price: $200.
Kenthebugguy.com

If you're the kind of person who screams at the sight of an insect or spider — or worse, steps on it — then a new store in Tucson, Ariz., might not be the best place for you to pick up a new family pet.

Owner Ken "The Bug Guy" MacNeil says his store is the only retail pet shop in the country devoted to insects and other arthropods. Judging from the recent opening day crowd at the store, plenty of people think the critters make great pets.

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7:41am

Sat April 21, 2012
Presidential Race

Can Romney Keep Ariz. Red?

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 10:46 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The Republican campaign for president literally heated up yesterday. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the likely nominee, was in the Phoenix area. He addressed a rally of sun-soaked supporters, a meeting of Republican state chairmen and a group of Hispanic leaders. Now, in the moment, we'll hear more about how Republicans plan to reach out to Hispanic voters this election season. First, NPR's Ted Robbins has this report.

MITT ROMNEY: Thank you, thank you.

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4:00am

Thu April 12, 2012
Around the Nation

Calif. Study: Nail Products Contain Toxic Chemicals

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 10:22 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

If you want a mani-pedi - that's a manicure and pedicure to the uninitiated - you don't have to walk very far here in California. There are about 48,000 nail salons throughout the state. A new study by the state government now says some products used in those salons contain toxic substances, even though the products are billed as nontoxic. That sounds scary for salon owners and workers and clients, but representatives of the nail care industry say the study is nonsense. NPR's Ted Robbins reports.

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2:56am

Wed April 11, 2012
Sports

New Season, New Owners For Los Angeles Dodgers

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 9:31 am

The L.A. Dodgers stand on the third baseline during the national anthem on opening day at Dodger Stadium. They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1, on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Harry How Getty Images

It was a sold out game on a pure Southern California day.

"Isn't this beautiful? Blue sky, not a cloud in the air, nice little breeze," said Maury Wills, who was the Dodgers shortstop in 1962. "It's warm Southern California."

Wills joined a bunch of his old teammates Tuesday to celebrate Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary. It's also the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys. So they sang the national anthem after "Surfer Girl."

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3:53pm

Sun March 18, 2012
Sports

After Ownership Drama, Dodgers Want To Play Ball

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 5:50 pm

Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a RBI single against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch on March 8 in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen Getty Images

Things are looking pretty good at the Dodgers spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz. They have Cy Young Award winning Clayton Kershaw anchoring their pitching staff and at the plate, the National league MVP runner-up, Matt Kemp.

"Hopefully, we can start out the way we finished last year and be consistent throughout the whole year," Kemp said.

Everyone has had enough of what's been happening off the field.

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12:01am

Fri March 16, 2012
National Security

Defense Contractors See Hope In Homeland Security

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 10:24 am

A vendor talks to attendees at the Border Security Expo in Phoenix, Ariz., next to a display of sophisticated cameras and sensors painted to blend into the desert.
Ted Robbins NPR

The Defense Department is bracing for billions of dollars in budget cuts — and that has defense contractors looking for new markets. Homeland Security is one of the most promising, particularly border security, which hasn't suffered any big cuts. So companies are lining up in hopes of landing a contract.

At a border security trade show in Phoenix, Ariz., there's enough surveillance equipment on the floor of the convention center to spot a federal appropriation from 5 miles away.

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4:00am

Wed February 29, 2012
Election 2012

29 GOP Delegates In Arizona Go To Romney

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And while Mitt Romney was eking out that win in Michigan, he pretty much walked away with yesterday's Arizona primary. Romney was expected to win in Arizona, but he walloped his closest challenger - that would be Rick Santorum - by 20 percentage points. Helped, in part, by the support of the last Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain.

And while all the attention was on Michigan throughout the night, NPR's Ted Robbins reports that in the all-important delegate count, the Arizona win counts for nearly as much.

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