A parent shouldn’t bury their child. It’s almost unnatural. But during those tragic moments where someone’s offspring passes, moms and dads deserve a final goodbye — regardless of their immigration status. That’s why a petition is circulating on Change.org urging the U.S. and Guatemalan governments to allow the father of Hania Aguilar, the kidnapped teen whose body was found slain last week, to come to North Carolina to lay his daughter to rest.
The body of the 13-year-old Latina, who was kidnapped by an unknown man on Nov. 5 outside of her home in Lumberton, was found in a body of water 10 miles away on Nov. 27. The condition of her body and the cause of death is still pending an autopsy report.
Community members have come together following news of the abduction, participating in volunteer searches for the girl, and death, sending in surveillance footage taken near the location where her body was found. Now, they have started a petition imploring governmental officials to expedite a visa for Hania’s father to come to the U.S. to lay her body to rest.
Stacy Maynor, a North Carolina-based immigration attorney, told ABC Charlotte affiliate WSOC that in order for the late girl’s father to secure a visa, he would need to prove that he does not intend on remaining in the U.S. The process, she said, takes several weeks, making his presence unlikely at the funeral service on Saturday.
Community members hope the petition could force both governments to help speed the process up.
“No parent should be denied the right to attend their child’s funeral- especially when Hania was a Citizen-born in Tennessee,” reads a petition made by Change.org user Monique Cespedes. “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!”
Thousands agree, with more than 43,900 people having pledged their support at the time of writing.
“I feel compelled as a human to try any effort at all to help this man and this family unite during such a difficult time,” Cespedes added.
There is currently a $30,000 reward for any information that could lead authorities to an arrest in Hania’s kidnapping and killing.