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Guatemalan Father of Murdered North Carolina Girl Denied Visa to Attend Her Funeral

3 minute read

The father of the 13-year-old North Carolina girl who was kidnapped in front of her home and found dead is doing everything he can to attend her funeral after being denied a visa to enter the United States.

Hania Aguilar was abducted in front of her Lumberton home on Nov. 5. Her family reported that she was taken into a car by a man dressed in all black with a yellow bandana covering his face.

FBI officials said the stolen SUV was found abandoned on Nov. 8 on a nearby road. On Nov. 27 officials found a body in Robeson County, which they ultimately confirmed was Hania’s. Investigators have not named a suspect in the murder.

The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for Hania’s death.

Hania’s father, Noe Aguilar, a Guatemalan-native, went to the U.S Embassy in Guatemala on Monday to request a temporary visa to attend Hania’s funeral on Sunday, but was denied at the embassy immediately.

According to his attorney, Naimeh Salem, an immigration lawyer based in Houston, he was denied because the embassy determined he did not have strong enough ties to Guatemala. Salem says Aguilar only stayed in the U.S. briefly around the time his daughter was born and then returned home. She said he has no intention on living in the United States and that his entire family is in Guatemala.

“He’s been living there his entire life,” Salem says. “He owns a transportation business. Under no previous Administration would something like this been denied, now it is made more difficult for Central Americans.”

Salem says she is now working on a last-ditch effort by attempting to enter the country through the U.S.-Mexican border.

“Its not impossible yet,” Salem says. “As far as the Embassy goes, I’m giving up hope, but Plan B is to bring him to the border and ask for humanitarian parole. Usually if a person shows compelling reasons to come to the U.S. on an emergency basis they allow them in the country for a short period of time.”

Salem says Aguilar is currently en route to Mexico and should arrive at the border on Saturday by 10 a.m.

“He’s staying hopeful but he’s also very sad and distraught,” she said. “Were remaining cautiously optimistic. His travels have not been easy and he has gotten sick because of all of the stress. He is hoping he doesn’t go all the way to Mexico for nothing.”

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Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com