Ugly, the American

On TV, the immigration wars aren't as simple as politicians make them sound

Few prime-time TV characters are more American than Betty Suarez. On ABC's hit comedy-soap Ugly Betty, she's a fashion-magazine assistant who is distinctly unfashionable--chunky sweaters, frizzy hair, bear-trap braces--but succeeds through good old Yankee values like perseverance, optimism and hard work. Smart and sweet-hearted, she embodies the Puritan-Shaker-Quaker principle of valuing inner good over outer appearance. She's as Norman Rockwell as a chestnut-stuffed turkey. The actress who plays her is even named America Ferrera.

And yet--if you listen to some politicians and pundits--she should have been booted out of the country years ago. Betty's father is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. To...

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