Ted Robbins

As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity—from traditional museum offerings to popular culture to out-of-the-way people and events.

Robbins also supervises obituaries or, as NPR prefers to call them, "appreciations" of people in the arts.

Robbins joined the Arts Desk in 2015, after a decade on air as a NPR National Desk correspondent based in Tucson, Arizona. From there, he covered the Southwest including Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Robbins reported on a range of issues from immigration and border security to water issues and wildfires. He covered the economy in the West with an emphasis on the housing market and Las Vegas development. He reported on the January 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six and injured many, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

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 News Hour with Jim Lehrer, 15 years at the PBS affiliate in Tucson, and working 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.

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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There's news today of another school shooting. This one in Nevada, at Sparks Middle School near Reno. Two people are dead - a teacher and a student who's believed to be the gunman. Two other students were injured and are in the hospital. NPR's Ted Robbins has more.

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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.

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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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.

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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Poor communication contributed to the deaths of 19 elite firefighters in Arizona this past June. That's just one of the findings of a long-awaited report on the Yarnell Hill Fire that was released yesterday. It was the deadliest U.S. wildfire in 80 years. The report lays out in detail what happened that day but it does not address why it happened or who was responsible. NPR's Ted Robbins was in Prescott, Arizona and he brings us the story.

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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.

The Senate immigration bill calls for tripling a controversial federal court program called Operation Streamline. The program takes people caught crossing the border illegally, gives them prison sentences, then deports them. It's hugely expensive — but does it work?

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.

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.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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A group of young people, known as the Dream 9, won a small victory yesterday in their fight to remain in the U.S. legally. They were released from a federal detention center in Arizona. All nine grew up in the U.S. but returned to their native Mexico, then publically tried to cross back into this country last month.

A huge increase in border security spending was the key to getting Republicans onboard with the immigration bill now making its way through the Senate. The bill is set to pass by the end of this week.

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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.

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.

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.

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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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Gun owners voluntarily turned in about 900 weapons to Phoenix police over the last couple of weekends. Those guns will be destroyed - this time. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says the idea of the gun buyback program is to reduce gun violence and improve safety. But under a new Arizona law that takes effect later this year, law enforcement officials will have to put surrendered weapons back on the street. NPR's Ted Robbins explains.

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.

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.

Reducing illegal immigration — a key requirement for any immigration overhaul — is largely up to the U.S. Border Patrol. That agency has doubled in size over the past decade. It's now the largest law enforcement agency in the country.

Critics say the agency has become overly zealous in its mission and faces little accountability. In the past three years, agents have killed nearly 20 people along the Southwest border — and few of those cases have been resolved.

Rocks Thrown, Shots Fired

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Audie Cornish talks to Ted Robbins about reaction to the Obama administration's decision to release immigrant detainees. The move was attributed to budget cuts.

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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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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