Richard Gonzales

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.

Gonzales joined NPR in May 1986. He covered the U.S. State Department during the Iran-Contra Affair and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Four years later, he assumed the post of White House Correspondent and reported on the prelude to the Gulf War and President George W. Bush's unsuccessful re-election bid. Gonzales covered the U.S. Congress for NPR from 1993-94, focusing on NAFTA and immigration and welfare reform.

In September 1995, Gonzales moved to his current position after spending a year as a John S. Knight Fellow Journalism at Stanford University.

In 2009, Gonzales won the Broadcast Journalism Award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He also received the PASS Award in 2004 and 2005 from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for reports on California's juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Prior to NPR, Gonzales was a freelance producer at public television station KQED in San Francisco. From 1979 to 1985, he held positions as a reporter, producer, and later, public affairs director at KPFA, a radio station in Berkeley, CA.

Gonzales graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and social relations. He is a co-founder of Familias Unidas, a bi-lingual social services program in his hometown of Richmond, California.

With President Obama's executive actions to shield up to five million immigrants from deportation now stalled in the courts, the conventional wisdom is that his proposal is a loser for the administration and the Democrats. Twenty-six states filed suit to stop him and it's safe to say an energized Republican base hasn't been enthusiastic about the president's idea.

Without much fanfare, the Obama administration recently took a significant step towards helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people fleeing persecution. The State Department is expanding its interpretation of the term "spouse" to include partners of same sex refugees and asylum seekers.

At the same time that immigration is a hot-button issue on the presidential campaign trail, in the courts, immigration advocates are chipping away at the government's authority to detain non-citizens indefinitely.

Two rulings issued this week from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California say that detainees have the right to a bond hearing while they are fighting their deportation cases.

A new report on conditions in immigrant detention centers around the country finds a systematic and ongoing failure by the Obama administration to adequately inspect facilities run by public and private contractors. The report alleges a pattern of basic human rights violations leading to deaths, suicides, violence and sexual assaults in facilities that were given a clean bill of health by federal inspectors.

When is a conviction not a conviction?

That's one of the questions raised by California Gov. Jerry Brown as he vetoed a bill Thursday that would have protected immigrants—legal or not—with low level drug offenses from deportation.

In California, anyone who gets popped for a minor drug offense, like smoking a joint, can plead guilty and volunteer for drug treatment—usually about a year. Upon successful completion of drug counseling, that charge and conviction is wiped off one's record like it never happened.

Federal immigration officials are issuing far fewer detainer requests, also known as immigration holds, to state and local law enforcement agencies seeking immigrants who are in this country illegally. At the same time, the requests that are issued don't appear to be targeting serious, or convicted, criminals.

While Donald Trump's recent position paper on immigration dominates headlines, a new study of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. digs into the latest numbers.

The Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute released "An Analysis of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States by Country and Region of Birth." It's based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

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A new government report recommends that the U.S. Border Patrol double its internal affairs investigators to focus on corruption and the alleged mistreatment of migrants along the Mexican border.

The interim report, written at the request of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, focuses on three themes: rooting out corruption within the agency; reining in the unauthorized use of force by Border Patrol agents; and improving departmental transparency.

The Obama administration is under growing pressure to change its policies governing the detention of thousands of migrants who came to the United States illegally.

Maybe it is a coincidence, but consider what has happened this past week:

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block two San Francisco gun control measures that were fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association. At least one veteran court observer says the high court's decision raises questions about how the justices interpret the Second Amendment.

First, the basics: A 2007 San Francisco ordinance requires residents to keep handguns under lock and key or to use trigger locks when they are not carrying their weapons. Another law, dating to 1994, bans the sale of ammunition that expands on impact, or hollow-point bullets.

The unrest in Baltimore and other cities regarding alleged police misconduct has prompted new calls for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. Such recordings could provide accountability and transparency in potentially controversial circumstances.

At least, that's the idea.

You may have heard by now that it takes one gallon of water to produce just one almond. And those are considered fighting words in drought-stricken California, which produces 80 percent of the world's supply of the tasty and nutritious nut.

So when almond grower Daniel Bays hears that, he just shakes his head.

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California's system of direct democracy — the voter initiative process — has produced landmark laws reducing property taxes, banning affirmative action and legalizing medical marijuana.

Now there's a bid to declare that "the people of California wisely command" that gays and lesbians can be killed.

You read that right.

The "Sodomite Suppression Act," as proposed, calls sodomy "a monstrous evil" that should be punishable "by bullets to the head or any other convenient method."

As Congress debates the fate of President Obama's immigration policies, the nation's immigration court system is bogged down in delays exacerbated by the flood of unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border last summer.

The administration made it a priority for those cases to be heard immediately. As a result, hundreds of thousands of other cases have been delayed until as late as 2019.

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Short on the heels of a nonbinding House vote to block President Obama's executive action on immigration, some 20 Democratic U.S. mayors are meeting today in New York City to send a different message:

They want to help implement the president's plan.

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Meet Dale Conour, a strapping, athletic man of 52. At midday, he's at home eating lunch with his son, Quinn, who is 2 1/2. Half of the living room of their San Francisco apartment is clearly Quinn's territory, filled with building blocks, a tepee and a train set.

Conour, a brand strategist and former magazine editor, is currently between jobs — which frees him up for afternoons like this with Quinn.

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The USGS estimates the damage from the earthquake at more than a billion dollars. In Napa, emergency managers are making their initial assessments. Napa City Manager, Mike Parness, explains the process.

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As the Obama administration says the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest border is declining, the White House is being urged to stop fast-tracking their deportation hearings. That call is coming from an unusual source: one of the nation's top immigration judges.



A year-long effort to push a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the House was officially declared dead yesterday. Prospects for the bill were always dicey and the debate became more complicated by the recent wave of unaccompanied children seeking entry into the United States. NPR's Richard Gonzales has more.

A short time ago, in a city not far away, Star Wars creator George Lucas decided to build a museum to house his movie memorabilia and his art collection.

There's just one looming question: Where should it go?

Lucas says he'll spend $300 million of his own money to build the proposed Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and will provide a $400 million endowment after his death. In addition to holding Skywalker artifacts galore, the museum would also host Lucas' private art collection, featuring works by Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth, among others.

Drive just an hour and a half north of San Francisco, and you're in Drakes Estero, named for the first English explorer to lay claim to California.

This near-pristine, wind-whipped marine wilderness is a federally protected home for large beds of eelgrass, the base of the marine food chain. The estuary hosts the largest colony of harbor seals on the West Coast, and tens of thousands of resident and migratory birds.

It's also home to the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

In late January, a mentally ill man was shot and killed by two police officers in Lodi, Calif., south of Sacramento. Tragedy often follows a confrontation between the police and a mentally ill person, but the facts of this case are in dispute.

The victim was a Sikh Army veteran, and his death has roiled the Sikh community and the city. On a recent Saturday evening, more than 100 people gathered at the Sikh temple in the largely agricultural community of Lodi, to remember Parminder Shergill.