Back in 2013, on the biggest night of year for Hollywood — the Academy Awards ceremony — a young undocumented Latina, Inocente Izucar, was thrust into the spotlight. When it was announced that the film Inocente won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short the directors, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, went up on stage to accept their award and took Inocente with them. In his acceptance speech Sean Fine thanked Inocente, “Most of all, we want to thank this young lady who was homeless just a year ago and now she’s standing in front of all of you.”
The circumstances of her life, chronicled in the short documentary film Inocente, are heartbreaking. She suffered physical abuse, chronic homelessness, and the constant fear of deportation since she and her family arrived in the U.S. more than a decade ago. But, through intimate interviews with Inocente, her calm voice narrating the details of her experiences, it becomes apparent that her optimism is unbreakable. She turns to art, to painting, to soothe her pain.
Just a few days ago, in a video posted on her Facebook page, she announced that she had some very big news. She explains, holding back tears, that a year ago a reporter at Univision introduced her to an immigration lawyer, Jessica Dominguez, who took on her family’s case pro bono. Dominguez helped Inocente and her family navigate the process of applying for Permanent Residency. With a huge smile on her face, Inocente announces that the paperwork has finally gone through and flashes her new Green Card to the camera. Smiling and crying all at the same time, she talks about finally being able to return to Mexico, after 15 years of not seeing her family there. Inocente’s mom hasn’t been able to see her own father in all that time.