Maria Garcia-Mata v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 17-1682 ___________________________ Maria Garcia-Mata, lllllllllllllllllllllPetitioner, v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United States, lllllllllllllllllllllRespondent. ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: January 9, 2018 Filed: June 29, 2018 ____________ Before WOLLMAN, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges. ____________ COLLOTON, Circuit Judge. Maria Garcia-Mata, a citizen of Mexico, petitions for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals. After an immigration judge ordered withholding of removal, the Board vacated that decision, denied relief, and ordered Garcia-Mata removed to Mexico. Garcia-Mata argues that the Board conducted de novo review and made its own findings of fact, contrary to governing regulations. We cannot tell from the Board’s rather opaque opinion whether the agency followed its regulations and applied the correct standard of review, so we remand for the Board to clarify its decision. Garcia-Mata entered the United States in the 1990s when she was eight years old and was deported in 2015 after sustaining criminal convictions. She attempted to re-enter the country using a stolen passport, but was caught by border patrol agents. She served a five-month prison sentence and then was deported to Mexico for a second time. In an effort to aid her return to the United States yet again, Garcia- Mata’s husband, with help from her father, hired a group to smuggle her across the border. According to Garcia-Mata, a member of this group instructed her to take a bus to the border city of Nogales, Mexico. Once she arrived, a waiting taxi took her to a house in Nogales. Garcia-Mata waited at the house for almost two weeks. While she was waiting, members of the group told her that they were “not allowed to make any mistakes,” and that “they will never leave a loose string.” She frequently saw armed men come in and out of the house. At one point, a man allegedly wearing a United States Border Patrol uniform told Garcia-Mata what questions to expect at the border and how to answer them. Border Patrol agents apprehended Garcia-Mata when she and a member of the smuggling group entered the United States. Garcia-Mata was detained as a material witness against the smuggler, but she was never called to testify against him. After Garcia-Mata was detained by authorities, someone in the smuggling group contacted her husband to let him know that she was detained and the reason why. The husband also received a series of text messages purportedly from someone in the group. One stated that “your wife . . . pointed the finger at him. You don’t do -2- that shit, man.” Another stated that when Garcia-Mata “got out,” “they had something to ask [her].” In Mexico, the smuggling group had taken Garcia-Mata’s cell phone and her Mexican identification with addresses for her grandparents in Mexico and family in Kansas City. The group began to contact people listed as contacts in the telephone to find ...

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