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Valenzuela v. Michel

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

November 15, 2013

Blanca Elisa Reyes VALENZUELA, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Steve Louis MICHEL, Respondent-Appellee.

Argued and Submitted Aug. 14, 2013.

Page 1174

Ann Haralambie, Tucson, AZ, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Scott Gan, Tucson, AZ, for Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Raner C. Collins, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 4:12-cv-00215-RCC.

Before: STEPHEN REINHARDT, JOHN T. NOONAN, and ANDREW D. HURWITZ, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge NOONAN; Concurrence by Judge REINHARDT.

OPINION

NOONAN, Circuit Judge:

We are tasked with deciding whether twin girls, now resident with their father in the United States, should be returned to

Page 1175

their mother in Mexico. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ruled that they should not. We affirm.

FACTS

In late 2006, Steve Michel and Blanca Reyes Valenzuela chose to live together in Nogales, Mexico. The twins were born in 2008.

According to Steve's undisputed testimony, the couple lived together in Nogales, Mexico. The couple agreed in 2009 that to avoid having to cross the border for work, Steve should move to the Arizona side. They agreed to " set a pattern to keep [the twins] in the United States" in order to take advantage of education, medical help and government support in the United States.

After the twins received their passports in May 2009, until the fall of 2010, they split their time between Mexico and the United States. They lived with Blanca in Mexico Monday through Wednesday and lived with Steve in the United States Thursday through Sunday.

In September 2010, the relationship between Blanca and Steve soured. Blanca threatened to have him beaten up or killed. For around two months in the fall of 2010, Blanca did not allow him to have any contact with the twins. Under the belief that she posed a danger to the children, Steve reported Blanca to Arizona Child Protective Services and to its Mexican equivalent, DIF, in November 2010.

From Christmas 2010 to February 2011, the twins split their time between Steve and Blanca evenly. In February 2011, Blanca would not regularly meet Steve or respond to his messages to go to the border so he could take the twins to the United States. Steve did take the children on March 24, 2011. He told Blanca he would return them at 7 PM on March ...


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