One of the four teens charged Tuesday with murder in the beating of University of Southern California grad student Xinran Ji was an illegal immigrant, a fact that has only increased the frustration for many—including the L.A. County Supervisor—with the U.S. State Department’s delaying of visas for the slain student’s parents.
“It is unconscionable that suspect Jonathan Del-Carmen-Refugio, arrested for the murder of USC graduate student Xinran Ji, entered the country illegally -- yet the victim’s parents were delayed in entering the country legally to claim their son’s body due to failures in the State Department’s visa process,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
The four defendants are 17-year-old Alberto Ochoa, 16-year-old Alejandra Guerrero, 18-year-old Andrew Garcia and 19-year-old Jonathan Del Carmen. The oldest, Del Carmen, was in the country illegally. Though two of them are juveniles, they have been charged as adults. Three of the defendents—Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero—face a special allegation for the use of a dangerous weapons, a bat and a wrench.
Xinran Ji, 24, was attacked early Thursday while walking back to his off-campus apartment after a study session. Ji was an engineering student who had won a scholarship for his research and innovative work in one of China’s leading universities. After coming to America on a tour several years ago, Ji decided that he wanted to take his studies further at USC, enrolling in 2013.
In a statement released Tuesday, Ji’s parents said that they had not yet been able to receive visas from the U.S. State Department.
Clayton Dube, executive director of the USC U.S.-China Institute, informed Ji's mother of her only child's death. Though the university was working with the U.S. and Chinese governments to get his parents to L.A. from their home in northern China, as of Tuesday they still had not been given permission by the U.S. State Department.
"For any family this is a horrible tragedy," said Dube, "but it's magnified by the fact that these Chinese families have sent their children so far away expecting that this was the best possible thing ... and now he's gone."
Image: George He and Sean Kong read a statement from the parents of Xinran Ji. AP.