July 23, 2013 -- Sign a petition. Call your congressman. Go to a town hall meeting. These are a few of the things you can do to show your support for immigration reform.
But with the House basically sitting on reform until September -- at the earliest -- immigrant rights supporters are looking for creative ways to empower and expand their base.
That's where the mobile art project "Inside Out 11M" comes in. The campaign is heading to at least 20 cities this summer to put a human face on immigration reform, telling stories with images instead of political slogans.
The program is basically a traveling photo booth that comes to your city. You head over to the location and have your photo taken by yourself, just your face.
A project staff member then prints out a 35" by 55" photo of you that you can hang in a public space. Or you can circulate it virtually.
Each photo comes with a simple hashtag, #InsideOut11M. The idea is that people who are curious about the story behind any given image will check it out online, and perhaps participate or spread the word.
There are lots of groups participating in this immigration effort, which kicked off in Washington, D.C. in late July. At the front of the push are organizations that back immigration reform, like the Center for Community Change and The Dream Is Now, a campaign tied to a documentary film.
The project will head to big cities like Los Angeles, Miami and New York in coming weeks, but will also make stops in places like Dayton, Ohio -- clearly a strategic choice. The city is in the heart of House Speaker John Boehner's district, and Boehner, a Republican, will play a key role in the fate of immigration reform this year.
It's worth noting that Inside Out goes beyond this particular immigration project. It's a global art initiative that has addressed everything from LGBT rights to environmentalism. The one rule is that there's no commercial or promotional messages with the photos. That goes for non-profit organizations as well as businesses.
See Also: Inside Out in NYC's Times Square
For the immigration project, and really with any of Inside Out's efforts, the hope is that community groups across the country will hear about it through word-of-mouth.
That's how Rommel Sandino found out. He's a 28-year-old youth organizer with the immigrant rights group Casa de Maryland. As a Nicaraguan immigrant, he was glad to be able to tell his story through images. After having his photo taken in late July, he hung it on the fence outside his organization's office on a well-trafficked road in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"I'm an immigrant myself, I personally know the sufferings and the struggles within the immigrant community," he said.
Sandino added that one of the best parts about the photo project was realizing that backing for immigration reform goes beyond immigrants themselves.
"It was just a rewarding experience to see how diverse the support base is," he said. "It's affecting the whole community."