Covering the Changing
American West

Dog and writer. Photo: Kathy McCraine

Good climate change stories have compelling characters. Photo: Anya Nova Metcalfe

Investigative Journalist

Terry has covered Arizona for over 25 years. During her 14 years as an investigative reporter for Phoenix New Times, she was named Arizona Journalist of the Year three different times.

Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Slate, The National Journal, The Daily Beast, Newsweek,, High Country News, and Arizona Highways, among other publications. Terry has been honored with more than 50 journalism awards, including the 2010 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, which she won with a Village Voice team of writers.

Storyteller and Author

Terry likes to write about people who live right next door, in hidden worlds. She immersed herself in the closed communities of Arizona’s undocumented immigrants and their tormentors to write Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona’s Immigration War Zone. She wrote the book because no human being is illegal. Instead a human being is a human being, with character assets and character flaws, and each human being has a fascinating story.

The book has been or is used as a textbook at Goucher College, Arizona State University, Marshall University, South Central College, St. Olaf's College and Northern Arizona University. Terry speaks with classes that use her text.

Contact Terry


Terry is writer in residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University's Phoenix campus, where she teaches narrative journalism. She is a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Connect With Terry

Read Terry's book: Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone
Learn about the book

Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone

No human being is illegal. Each human being has a fascinating story.

What a vivid portrayal of the Arizona immigrant underground. Illegal is not afraid to show the bad decisions immigrants make along with their resilience and strength of spirit. This is the total picture, a heartbreaking one in a state that has chosen to demonize its Mexican residents.

-- Tony Ortega, editor in chief, The Village Voice

Buy the book



The Immigrant Prison Nightmare

The Immigrant Prison Nightmare

30/04/2010 The Daily Beast

Where would Arizona put all the detainees arrested under the state’s controversial new law? Terry Greene Sterling reports on how the area’s cash-strapped jails and courts would cope.

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Mexico’s Man in Arizona

Mexico’s Man in Arizona

23/04/2010 The Daily Beast

As Gov. Brewer signs the nation’s strictest immigration bill into law, anxious Mexican nationals are fearing imminent arrest. Terry Greene Sterling on the diplomat in the eye of the storm.

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A Crazy Immigration Law

A Crazy Immigration Law

10/04/2010 The Daily Beast

Arizona is about to pass the toughest anti-immigrant bill in the country. Terry Greene Sterling on the bid to turn illegals into trespassers overnight and the forces trying to stop it.

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Updates from Terry

Terry's Blog

Border Patrol Transparency and 9/11

About 10 years ago, in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a Border Patrol officer told me he feared post 9/11 “surges” in hiring at the agency would have shattering  consequences, inadvertently luring bad recruits into the Border Patrol. Now the fired Customs and Border Protection  Internal Affairs Commissioner, James Tomsheck, has become a whistleblower. He blames post read more


Charles Bowden Dead

This is the best video clip I’ve found of Charles Bowden, the Arizona writer who died recently. He was enormously talented, generous and angry. His life worked, but didn’t work, and in the end, he died just as we all will die.

The Handcuffing of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The Handcuffing of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Washington’s gridlock over fixing the nation’s immigration system enabled Arizona’s rogue laws, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s enforcement of them. The courts had the last say. Here’s the story for The National Journal Magazine.  



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No human being is illegal. Instead a human being is a human being, with character assets and character flaws, and each human being has a fascinating story. Terry Greene Sterling