On July 4, Mahmoud Esmaeili, a 33-year-old software engineer, became an American citizen. Here’s why: “I like the system here. I like the rule of law. You know what to expect and what to not expect, so you can plan. That was the major part of why I wanted to be part of America.”
The example of Esmaeili is in many ways a microcosm of our long national debate about immigrants and immigration — a debate that hinges on what it means to be an American. …
My new research sheds light on this question. I find that Americans by far prioritize what people believe, not who they are. A civic conception of citizenship creates a rare bipartisan consensus. But where that consensus breaks down — and what makes the current politics of immigration so fraught — has to do with religion. CONT.
John Sides (GWU), Monkey Cage