Of course, there are catches: this improved system wouldn't kick in for another eight years, while all the relatives in the pipeline get shoved through, and relatives would still make up the majority of legal immigrants afterwards.
Now, here's the interesting point. You might think that the Bush Administration would have tried to prepare the ground among Republicans before last Thursday's announcement of the Kennedy-Bush bill by letting immigration skeptics know that some actual reforms were coming along with all the sell-outs. Nobody else is very interested in the subject. Reforming legal immigration is a good idea, but nobody except the hard-core immigration skeptics at VDARE, CIS, and a few other places has been talking about it. In the current environment, rationalizing legal immigration seems like a rather bloodless bit of good government wonkery compared to doing something about the national disgrace of rampant illegal immigration. Fixing legal immigration is actually very important—although the most effective fix would be cutting the number of visas for a lengthy number of years while we assimilate past immigrants—but it's just not part of the current debate, and, quite reasonably, it won't be as long as illegal immigration is out of control.
Still, you would think that the fact that a few of the ideas of immigration skeptics like me made it into Kennedy-Bush bill (although I'm sure they were put in by Senate Republicans like Sen. Kyl, not the Administration) would have been used by the Bush Administration in an attempt to butter up the immigration skeptic wing to not be so immediately hostile to the bill. That's straight out of Lobbying 101 — appeal to the ego of potential critics. Tell us we are helping make this a better country through some of our brilliant ideas.
I certainly am not surprised I didn't get a get a phone call from Karl Rove before last Thursday, trying to get me excited about bits of the upcoming package, but, what about, say, Hugh Hewitt or the National Review boys? They've been good soldiers in the Bush Army, except on immigration. So, why didn't they get a call?
The simplest answer seems to be that the Bush Administration is deeply emotional about immigration, trumping even Iraq. They'll deal happily with Ted Kennedy, but if you don't toe the Bush line on the borders, you are a bad, bad person.
[Crossposted at Isteve.com]