Accordingly, under a “cultural distance” immigration regime of the sort that Wax proposes, a Democrat could reasonably argue that white Europeans are more likely to believe in things that are contrary to American ideals. One of those ideals is unrestricted birthright citizenship, which is enshrined in the Constitution and, I would argue, is central to Americanness and the American idea. If a white European says he or she doesn’t support birthright citizenship—not a single European country currently has birthright citizenship—should that affect his or her chances of immigrating to the United States? Perhaps.
The irony is that even supporters of Donald Trump would acknowledge that he is somewhat outside American cultural norms. For many, his flouting of norms and traditions is crucial to his appeal. (For opponents such as myself, it is perhaps his only appeal.) He is not like most of the Americans they know. Conservatives stress the importance of cultural cohesion, and pluralism, taken to extremes, can in fact undermine trust and produce civil conflict. But if a hypothetical white Swedish male with Trump’s exact views on Islam (“I think Islam hates us”), the internment of Japanese Americans, and sending minority congresswomen “back,” then that person would be more of a threat to U.S. cultural cohesion than, say, a nonwhite Ghanaian with views closer to those of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Or, to put a finer point on it, if Trump himself tried to (legally) immigrate to the United States, an immigration policy prioritizing culture—or, at least, what is currently the dominant culture—would probably have to reject his application.