The Guatemalan father of Hania Aguilar, a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in Lumberton, North Carolina earlier this year, will not be allowed into the United States to attend his daughter’s funeral, which will take place Saturday at Lumberton High School, WPDE reports.
Noé Aguilar was denied his request for a temporary visa to enter the U.S. despite an online petition with more than 53,000 signatures on his behalf; a letter from Gov. Roy Cooper; and intervention from Rep. Mark Meadows.
Naimeh Salem, an attorney representing Hania’s father, told WSOC-TV that his request for a temporary visa was denied because “he doesn’t have enough ties to the country.”
Hania Aguilar was reportedly kidnapped on Nov. 5 outside of her home in Lumberton while she was waiting outside her home to go to school. A witness reported seeing a man dressed all in black and wearing a yellow bandana over his face force the teenager into a SUV and drive away, according to CBS News.
The stolen SUV was reportedly found several days after her kidnapping on a road nearly ten minutes from where a body preliminarily identified as hers was found on Nov. 27.
The FBI says it is still awaiting official identification by dental records, ABC11 reports. There is a $30,000 reward for help finding who kidnapped and murdered Hania.
The petition on the site, change.org, collected more than 53,000 signatures as of Thursday evening and continues to grow. The petition statement reads in part:
“The problem is slain and murdered Hania Aguilar’s father is in Guatemala and he needs permission to be expedited to the United States in order to see his daughter one last time, say his goodbyes and attend her funeral. No parent should be denied the right to attend their child’s funeral — especially when Hania was a citizen-born in Tennessee. This petition is to show support for the father coming to attend the arrangements. Somehow someway the involved agencies should be able to make this work given his family and daughter are victims of a brutal crime that took the life of his daughter! Please sign this petition showing you signed because you support any and all efforts for Hania’s father to come to the United States for this final departing of his daughter! Thank you!”