Mike Hornick, staff writer
Mike Hornick, staff writer

What’s the next window of opportunity for immigration reform?

In May I asked Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape & Tree Fruit League.

“June and July,” he said.

But there was a premise.

“If we’re looking at Republicans in the House of Representatives who have gotten by their primary challenge, usually from a candidate who may be using immigration as a wedge issue, then we might get a bill out of the House that can be conferenced with the Senate version,” Bedwell said.

On June 10, Republican majority leader Eric Cantor lost to one such primary challenger, David Brat. Within hours editorial writers called it the kiss of death for immigration reform — even a bare-bones approach like Cantor’s.

Conventional wisdom took form, congealed and hardened before my eyes.

In Washington some Republican and Democratic senators — John McCain among them — saw the same process.

They offered a different reading of primary results and prospects for legislation. (Perhaps on behalf of less vocal House colleagues.)

They took it upon themselves to “change the narrative” — consultant’s jargon that seems to be everyday language now.

I wish them well.

But here’s what I’ve learned about narratives: They don’t change. Or they do, but the price paid is more than anyone imagined.

I’d rather challenge a fact or detail than the story someone tells about themselves.

Saying so may show my age. Perhaps now the narrative is always changing. A Facebook revolution in Egypt swept away authoritarian rule.

Maybe they’d still be free if they’d spent as much time organizing as they did on social media.

So with immigration reform, in the end it will be organized political activity and deal making that clinches it — at some opportune moment in the shifting of narratives.

Any wish that its business and labor advocates might just drop the matter reminds me of the punch line to a cartoon from The New Yorker.

A man holding a phone and eyeing his calendar says: “How about never — is never good for you?”

Funny. But imagine the answer he got.


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