Family denied visas to attend funeral

July 26, 2008 7:33:36 AM PDT
Joel Valente lost his wife last week after she gave birth to their second child. Now he says the U.S. is denying her family an emergency visa to attend the funeral.

"I was in denial up to now," Valente said.

He is grieving for his wife, Romina, a nurse at Duke who died during child birth.

"I'm still hoping that I'm dreaming," Valente said. "I'm still hoping that I would wake up and she's at my side."

But Valente says he harbors another pain.

Romina's siblings, who live in the Philippines, were both denied emergency visas for the funeral.

The reason they were given is the internet.

"They said they couldn't get her name on the internet and they were looking at the death certificate and they were doubtful," Valente said.

Romina's brother, Jessie Villagracia spoke to Eyewitness News in a phone interview from the Philippines. "They're implying that we have fabricated those documents and there were no other reasons that they gave us."

"They were so cruel," Valente went on to say. "They don't want to listen to them."

Valente partly blames himself for not publishing his wife's death.

"I did not but her name in the obituary because it was very, very painful," he explained.

Romina's mother was granted a visa. The other family members say they've appealed but are ready to give up.

"We just want to have some closure on this thing and to see our sister for the last time we are here on Earth," Villagarcia said.

Valente will bury his wife next week and will raise the couple's two children.

Romina did not have the opportunity to meet the couple's newest addition, Sean.

"I'm giving all my love to him," Valente said. "I know it's painful, but I'm going to raise him the way me and my wife wanted him to be. He's an angel to us."

The government would not comment on the case. They say consulates follow certain guidelines and use discretion when using visas.

Romina will be buried Aug. 2.


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