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
2:57 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

What's In A Name? Plenty Of Ways To Make A Mistake

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 6:00 pm

When Arizona State University graduates hear their names announced, they have Peter Lafford to thank. It's his job to ensure students' names are pronounced correctly — and it's not always an easy task.

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

Around the Nation
3:05 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Ranchers And The Federal Government: The Long History Of Conflict

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 1:01 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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News
2:15 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Nevada Ranch Dispute Ends As Feds Back Down — For Now

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 4:42 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

A standoff between federal agents and a Nevada rancher is over for now. Over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management released about 400 head of cattle it had rounded up, fearing a violent confrontation. Militia members, including many with guns, had rallied in support of the rancher, Cliven Bundy, and his family. NPR's Ted Robbins has the story.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No BLM. No BLM. No BLM.

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Law
3:21 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

For Albuquerque PD, A Searing Rebuke From Justice Department

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 6:12 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Justice Department issued a scathing report today on the Albuquerque Police Department's use of force. Albuquerque officers have shot and killed 23 people in the last four years. Many of the victims were mentally or emotionally unstable. The report says the department has systemic deficiencies that caused the deaths and many other incidents. NPR's Ted Robbins has the story.

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Environment
3:00 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Waters Will Flood Part Of Colorado River, For Just A Few Weeks

Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, water is flowing to 35 million people in both countries along the Colorado River Delta. At least for now.
Ted Robbins/NPR

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 6:03 pm

Millions of gallons of water used to flow every day from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Now, the Colorado River ends at Morelos Dam on the U.S.-Mexico border. Below it, one of North America's largest wetlands is dry.

Karl Flessa, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, began researching the damage two decades ago. Then he started asking how much water it would take to bring back some of the habitats.

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Around the Nation
2:36 pm
Sat March 29, 2014

In Arizona, Citizens Keep Close Eye On Immigration Checkpoint

Members of the Arivaca, Ariz., community monitor an immigration checkpoint about 25 miles north of the Mexican border. Some residents say border agents go beyond their legal authority.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 4:59 pm

Border Patrol checkpoints aren't always near the border. Some aren't even on roads that go to the border. Take Arivaca Road; it's an East-West route 25 miles north of the Mexican border in Southern Arizona.

A Border Patrol checkpoint has been operating there around the clock for seven years. Some residents of the town of Arivaca say agents at the checkpoint go well beyond their legal authority; searching vehicles and questioning citizens without cause. So they've begun their own monitoring — to inspect the process.

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Business
3:04 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Arizona Struggles To Gain Cross-Border Trade With Mexico

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 7:00 am

In 2010, Arizona passed laws aimed at undocumented immigrants. As a result, business relations with Mexico — Arizona's biggest trading partner — began to suffer.

News
2:02 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Border Patrol Revises Its Rulebook For Use Of Deadly Force

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 5:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The chief of the U.S. Border Patrol wants agents to limit their use of deadly force. The Border Patrol says agents have killed 10 people since 2010, while the ACLU says that number is 27. NPR's Ted Robbins reports on a directive issued today that outlines new guidance for the use of force against rock throwers and vehicles.

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Law
2:35 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Amid Controversy, 'Right To Refuse' Bill Hits Governor's Desk

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 6:01 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer is being pressured to veto a bill that would allow business owners in the state to deny service to gays and lesbians. To deny service, the business owner has to have sincerely held religious beliefs. That's the legislation's wording. It's become so controversial that even some lawmakers who voted for it are now regretting it.

NPR's Ted Robbins has more.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Equal rights.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When do we want it?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Now.

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Around the Nation
2:04 am
Tue February 11, 2014

With An Air Bag, Help During An Avalanche Is A Cord-Yank Away

Derick Noffsinger models a deployed avalanche air bag pack made by Black Diamond at an industry market in Salt Lake City last month.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 9:03 am

Let's say you're skiing in the backcountry, looking for some powder — but instead, you trigger an avalanche.

If you have an avalanche air bag pack strapped to your back, you just yank the cord. That deploys the air bag, which keeps you close to the surface and easier to dig out, says Andy Wenberg with Backcountry Access, one of several companies making the devices. When deployed, his company's version of the air bag comes out like wings.

"The whole idea when you deploy that thing in an avalanche is you're avoiding burial death," he says.

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Around the Nation
2:42 am
Thu January 30, 2014

In Las Vegas, Lawns Are The Biggest Water Waster

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 5:24 am

Las Vegas depends on Lake Mead for its water and the reservoir is dropping. The city's water officials long ago instituted water conservation measures. Critics say they are not nearly enough.

The Edge
1:29 am
Thu January 30, 2014

High Schoolers Hit The Slopes, And The Books, At Team Academy

Elite athletes at Team Academy keep up their education in classrooms like this one; their training facilities are downstairs in the same building.
Sarah Brunson USSA

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:41 am

Freestyle aerial skier Mac Bohonnon recently finished second at the Val St. Come World Cup in Quebec, and that helped him qualify for the Olympics in Sochi. But when he's not doing triple-twisting double backflips, he's taking Advanced Placement classes at Team Academy in Park City, Utah.

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Law
9:59 am
Sun January 19, 2014

South Texas: The New Hot Spot For Illegal Crossing

The Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas, is more dangerous than it looks because of swift currents and Border Patrol surveillance.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 11:31 am

As the U.S. government has militarized the California and Arizona segment of the Southwest border over the last two decades, illegal crossers have moved to another area. South Texas has become the new border hot spot.

The Rio Grande Valley is also the closest route to Central America. Two-thirds of those caught crossing are from that troubled region.

The Border Patrol and local authorities are straining to keep up.

Fleeing Poverty And Murder

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Sports
3:03 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Will Team USA's High-Tech Speedskating Suit Pay Off In Gold?

"Mach 39" is the result of a partnership between Under Armour and Lockheed Martin to create the most aerodynamic speedskating suit for the U.S. Olympic team.
Under Armour

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:19 am

A years-in-the-making, top-secret engineering and design project for a superaerodynamic suit to be worn by U.S. speedskaters at next month's Winter Olympics was finally unveiled Thursday.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin and sporting goods company Under Armour released photos of the suit they're calling "Mach 39." It has been kept so tightly under wraps that the sport's governing body wouldn't even allow it to be worn at the Olympic trials in Salt Lake City.

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The Salt
1:37 am
Thu January 9, 2014

The Fruits Of Free Trade: How NAFTA Revamped The American Diet

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 am

Walk through the produce section of your supermarket and you'll see things you'd never have seen years ago — like fresh raspberries or green beans in the dead of winter.

Much of that produce comes from Mexico, and it's the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — which took effect 20 years ago this month.

In the years since, NAFTA radically changed the way we get our fruits and vegetables. For starters, the volume of produce from Mexico to the U.S. has tripled since 1994.

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Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Wave Of Illegal Immigrants Gains Speed After NAFTA

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 5:49 am

The North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, turns 20 next week. Hailed as a boon for regional trade, it had some undesirable effects. It hastened a trend away from small farmers, and speeded illegal immigration to the U.S.

Around the Nation
3:42 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Once A Mighty Bomber, A B-52 Meets Its End In The Desert

A view of a B-52 about to have its tail section cut at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:16 pm

A relic of the Cold War met its end on Thursday. The Air Force destroyed the last B-52 bomber required under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

A crew used a circular saw to cut through the plane's aluminum skin, the tail section separating from the fuselage with a loud thunk and officially rendering the bomber useless.

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Around the Nation
3:37 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Iconic Sheep Return To Tucson Mountains, But Is It For Good?

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:54 pm

The last desert bighorn sheep that roamed the mountains above Tucson, Ariz., died in the 1990s, the victim of human encroachment, mountain lions, and fire suppression. Now, the iconic Southwest animal — picture the Dodge Ram's grille — is back. A herd of 31 was released Monday morning after being transplanted over the weekend from the Yuma area in the far west of the state. Why would the sheep survive this time?

U.S.
1:05 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Little-Known Immigration Mandate Keeps Detention Beds Full

The federal immigration detention center in Florence, Ariz., is one of about 250 such facilities around the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required to house 34,000 immigration detainees per day, nationwide.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:04 pm

Imagine your city council telling the police department how many people it had to keep in jail each night.

That's effectively what Congress has told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with a policy known as the "detention bed mandate." The mandate calls for filling 34,000 beds in some 250 facilities across the country, per day, with immigrant detainees.

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Around the Nation
2:03 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Saguaro National Park Welcomes Return Of Visitors

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 10:23 am

Transcript

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: I'm Ted Robbins, in Tucson, with a reminder this was a partial government shutdown. I'm at sector headquarters for the Border Patrol. Today - and for the last two weeks, pretty much - cars and SUVs with agents have been going in and out of the parking lot here. So have buses carrying people apprehended in the desert, along with people who are being deported back to Mexico.

JUANITA MOLINA: Border Patrol as a policing force, here in southern Arizona, is a constant.

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Business
12:36 am
Tue October 15, 2013

JPMorgan To Front Customers If Federal Shutdown Drags On

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on June 19, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 2:50 am

JPMorgan Chase says it will cover Social Security and Welfare payments for its customers if the government goes into default or the shutdown continues.

If nothing else, it's good public relations for a company which hasn't had much lately.

The bank spent nearly 40 percent of the company's revenue over the last quarter — more than $9 billion — on legal expenses. Money paid to fight government investigations and on fines.

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Business
3:19 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

Shortage Of Workers Hampers Chili Harvest In New Mexico

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 4:12 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

Let's talk chili peppers. It's harvest time in New Mexico where the iconic crop has been grown for centuries. New Mexico still produces more chili peppers than any other American state. But production in the U.S. is a fraction of what's produced in India and China, countries with large pools of labor.

NPR's Ted Robbins reports that farmers in New Mexico could increase their harvest if they had the people to do it.

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The Salt
5:18 am
Sun October 6, 2013

That Smoky Smell Means Chile Roasting Season In New Mexico

Fresh picked green chiles are bound for stews, burritos, enchiladas, pozole and more. Fall is chili roasting season in New Mexico.
Tim Robbins NPR

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 11:39 am

It's chile season in New Mexico, where they take their chiles pretty seriously.

Indeed, the chile is the official state vegetable, so it's probably best to not mention it is actually a fruit. No matter what it is, the fall harvest is on, and that means it's time to fire up the grills.

Green chiles roasting over a hot gas flame give off a smoky, sweet, pungent perfume.

That smell is part of what has drawn customers like Lorenzo and Peggy Lucero to the Diaz farm in Deming, in southwest New Mexico, for the past 30 years.

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Around the Nation
3:58 am
Fri September 20, 2013

After Shooting Tragedies, States React With Legislation

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 4:10 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Each recent mass shooting in this country has provoked an outpouring of sorrow - and cash: Sandy Hook Promise, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, now the Navy Yard Relief Fund. What the shootings has not produced is a consensus about how to prevent future tragedies. Congress has been unable to pass gun safety laws for almost two decades.

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Around the Nation
2:46 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Las Vegas Gambles On Unique Business Incubator

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 9:12 am

The Downtown Container Park will set up budding entrepreneurs in repurposed shipping containers. The park will have 35 containers and a bunch of modular cubes like you'd normally see at a construction site — all to house local businesses.

Law
3:31 am
Sat August 24, 2013

Cutting Public Defenders Can Cost Federal Government More

Courts in Tucson, Ariz., are turning to private lawyers to represent clients who would have had public defenders.
Chris Morrison AP

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 11:32 am

These days, the Federal Public Defender's Office in Tucson, Ariz., has lots of space. Since the federal budget cuts known as sequestration began, the office has lost a quarter of its staff to layoffs or furloughs.

Under the Constitution, clients still need legal representation, so judges have to appoint private attorneys to replace the public defenders.

The sequester was supposed to save money. But in this case, the sequester is costing federal dollars.

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Art & Design
3:07 am
Sun August 11, 2013

These Dioramas Are To Die For

This "Die-O-Rama" features a picnic lunch of body parts.
Marty Walsh Courtesy of Trifecta Gallery

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 12:09 pm

If you like mysteries, thrillers or zombie flicks, you'll probably like Abigail Goldman's art.

Goldman takes the fake grass, dirt and tiny plastic people used in model railroad layouts, and turns them into imaginary crime scenes. She's been making the macabre art for four years, and it's become so popular there's a waiting list for her work.

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Law
4:04 am
Tue June 18, 2013

High Court Strikes Down Voting Law In Arizona

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 11:52 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Tuesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

When the Supreme Court nears the end of a session, you can feel the drama on a day like yesterday. Some big decisions loomed - cases dealing with affirmative action and gay marriage.

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Shots - Health News
3:33 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 4:20 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.
3:16 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 4:21 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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