The Real Anchors
In Heinlein’s formulation, two years of government service -- sometimes, but not invariably, military service -- was a requirement of citizenship. Some have mistakenly declared his notion fascist, but that is nonsense, as fascism is much more than militarism (assuming that one even accepts that Heinlein’s society was militaristic -- I don’t necessarily). Economic collectivism and corporatism (things that would be unlikely in a Heinleinian society) are key features of it. And fellow SF author Spider Robinson long ago acquitted him of the charge.
And of course, there is no reason to accept Heinlein’s criteria to investigate the notion of citizenship as earned rather than birthright. It might be something as simple as demonstrating an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship (including a knowledge of the principles and rules of the republic) and not being on the public dole. One of the problems that we have in this nation is representation without taxation -- that is, a greater and greater number of people are net recipients of taxpayer funds while the numbers of productive taxpayers decline. If we reach the tipping point at which there are more of the former than of the latter, and they are allowed to vote, then the republic is lost, because, as Tocqueville warned almost two centuries ago, they will become a tyrannical majority, continuing to vote more for themselves from those who actually produce the wealth.
Getting back to the immigration issue, if it were my choice, I’d much rather grant citizenship to someone who was willing to brave a desert and river crossing to get to this nation, learn the language and the civics, and work for a living, than someone born here who takes the nation for granted and refused to accept those responsibilities. Who is more deserving of the vote -- the immigrant who has worked for it, or the native who spurns its requirements and demands public largesse? Or worse yet, a native who gangs with others to prey on his own neighbors? Why should someone, regardless of their behavior and level of social responsibility, be a citizen of this great nation through the sheer luck of having been born here, when many other true Americans who weren’t born here but “got here as fast as they can” are not?
Note that this isn’t about civil rights, at least not the traditional negative rights as stated in the Bill of Rights. Both citizens and civilians would have rights to free speech, rights to fair trials, even rights to bear arms if they’re not felonious, but voting is not and should not be a right -- it should be a privilege, because, as noted above, it’s one that many will otherwise abuse to the detriment of their fellow residents, should they not be responsible and willing to pull their own weight, choosing instead to rob them at the ballot box.
If we rethink the notion of what it means to be a citizen, and how to attain that state, the issue of “anchor babies” of non-residents will become moot. What we should be much more worried about, in this age of false entitlement, are the anchor natives who are sinking the country.