Luis Magaña has been an advocate of the rights of immigrant farm workers for his entire adult life.

The son and grandson of migrants from the Mexican state of Michoacán who came to California as guest workers in 1917 and 1943, Mr. Magaña is a longtime friend. He has taken on every cause, from improving dismal working conditions in the sprawling farms of the San Joaquin Valley to extracting past-due compensation for aging migrants from the Mexican government.
He has a better grasp than most people of the most ardent wish of millions of immigrants working “without papers” across the American economy.
Last week I asked Mr. Magaña, who came to the United States as a child, about the renewed enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for a reform of the nation’s immigration laws. What did migrants think, I asked, about the sudden good luck that might give them a shot at American citizenship?
His simple, straightforward response contrasts with the complex set of finely balanced, interlocking provisions in the proposal for immigration reform unveiled on Tuesday by a group of eight Republican and Democratic senators. What the migrants want most, he told me, “is to fix their papers,” gaining an opportunity to move freely and work legally in the United States.