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.



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.

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.

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

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.

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.



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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And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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.

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.

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.



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?

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.

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.

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.

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.