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Guatemalan father of murdered North Carolina teen denied visa to attend girl's funeral


13-year-old Hania Aguilar was kidnapped and killed last month

(Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A Guatemalan man who applied for a temporary visa in order to attend the funeral of his murdered daughter in North Carolina has been denied entry by the U.S. government.

What are the details?

Thirteen-year-old Hania Aguilar was kidnapped outside her home in Lumberton on Nov. 5, but her body wasn't found until last week in spite of a massive search effort.

Hania's father, Noe, traveled to the United States Embassy in Guatemala City on Monday to request an expedited approval for a visa in order to attend the girl's funeral service on Saturday, the New York Times reported.

Aguilar's Texas-based immigration attorney, Naimeh Salem, told the Times that his client's application was denied because U.S. officials feared the grieving father lacked close ties to his home country and might not return.

"To tell you the truth, with past administrations, we never had a problem like this," Salem said. "With this [presidential] administration, most everything that is discretionary is getting denied."

A Change.org petition asking for Aguilar to be granted permission to attend his daughter's services had garnered more than 56,000 signatures as of Friday.

"No parent should be denied the right to attend their child's funeral," the petition states. "Agencies need to come together diligently to facilitate the process so this father can come to his daughter's funeral."

An update to the petition states that Aguilar's application was denied because "he does not have substantial bank deposits and doesn't own his own business."

Politicians have also stepped in to urge the State Department to allow passage for Aguilar, including North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

Anything else?

Hania was a U.S. citizen, born in Tennessee. Her father lived in the United States when she was young but returned to his home country on his own accord years ago. Salem told the Times that Aguilar "has no negative immigration history" and has never been deported.

According to the Daily Mail, no one has been arrested in connection Hania's murder, and a $30,000 reward remains in place for information related to her abduction and death.

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