Petition urges expedited visa so kidnapped North Carolina girl’s father can attend her funeral

LUMBERTON, N.C. — An online petition is urging immigration officials to allow the father of a North Carolina girl who was found dead after she was kidnapped last month to travel to the U.S. to attend her funeral.

Hania Aguilar, 13, was kidnapped Nov. 5 from her home in Lumberton after going outside to start her aunt’s SUV before school. Police say a man forced her into the green Ford Expedition and drove off.

Her body was found last week in Robeson County, about 10 miles from her home, after several weeks of searching and investigation by local officials and the FBI. No suspects have been identified and police have not released a cause of death.

The petition says Aguilar’s father, who lives in Guatemala, would need an expedited visa to attend the funeral, scheduled for Saturday. The petition says Aguilar was a U.S. citizen. More than 13,000 people had signed it as of Monday morning.

“No parent should be denied the right to attend their child’s funeral,” the petition says.

The U.S. State Department lists the current wait time for Guatemalan citizens to schedule an interview to apply for a non-immigrant visitor visa as 24 days. Guatemalan citizens may request an expedited interview appointment for “urgent, unforeseen situations” including funerals, according to the State Department’s website.

A $30,000 reward remains in place for information related to Aguilar’s kidnapping.

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