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Corey Dade

The new Congress will hold its first hearing on overhauling immigration laws on Tuesday, and some pro-immigrant groups and Democrats already are grumbling that the makeup of witnesses scheduled to testify before a House panel is weighted toward conservatives who oppose citizenship for illegal immigrants and support a limited flow of newcomers.

Critics are concerned that the witness list signals that Republican lawmakers' post-election embrace of immigration reform may not materialize. None of the pro-immigrant groups is represented among the speakers.

For more than four decades, the Voting Rights Act never lost a court decision as it cut a path for minorities' increased participation in elections.

But the most effective civil rights law in U.S. history faces its most serious challenge as the Supreme Court prepares to re-examine its constitutionality.

Determined not to be excluded from the post-election bipartisan talk of passing immigration legislation, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday rejected two Republican proposals while outlining its own priorities.

Now that Republicans are widely embracing an overhaul of immigration laws, even a path to legal status for illegal residents, will their members in Congress follow through?

While the presidential election consumes the nation's attention, the Republican Party is poised to expand its dominance of state politics with this year's contests for governor.

If predictions of strategists in both parties and polling prove correct, the November elections could give the Republicans their highest number of governors in 91 years.

Among the current governors, 29 are Republicans, 20 Democrats and one is an independent. Next month, Republican candidates could take away as many as five governorships from Democrats.

States using a federal immigration database to purge noncitizens from voter lists are starting to get results, which so far include few illegal voters.

In Florida, which was first to gain access to the database after fighting the federal government in court, an initial run of roughly 2,600 names has turned up "several" violators, according to a spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

As President Obama reintroduces himself to America at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week, the Occupy movement will be there trying to do the same.

Remember Occupy Wall Street, originator of the "We are the 99 percent" slogan?

The group, which helped reshape the nation's political discourse last year before falling into disarray and uncertainty, plans to hold a demonstration outside the convention hall in an effort to recapture the spotlight. A Tampa, Fla., Occupy group protested at the Republican convention in there last week.

Over 21 years, attorney J. Gerald Hebert handled more than 100 civil rights cases as the Justice Department's point man enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Now, he helps governments gain release from the law's central mandate.

A landmark federal law used to block the adoption of state voter identification cards and other election rules now faces unprecedented legal challenges.

A record five federal lawsuits filed this year challenge the constitutionality of a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. The 1965 statute prevents many state and local governments from enacting new voter ID requirements, redistricting plans and similar proposals on grounds that the changes would disenfranchise minorities.

Several presidential battleground states are moving quickly to reach agreements with federal officials to access a U.S. immigration database to purge noncitizens from voter rolls.

The states, including some with large Latino populations, are following Florida, which last week reached its own pact with the Department of Homeland Security to use a database that contains information about immigrants who are in the U.S. legally. The states' efforts had initially been blocked by DHS until the agency relented.

New polls show that President Obama's shift in deportation policy appears to have had the intended effect of boosting his support among Latino voters, many of whom have been adrift since 2008 and uninterested in the presidential election.

President Obama's decision to stop deporting young, otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants could help rebuild his support among electorally important Latinos after 18 months of futile efforts, some activists said Friday.

"There is overwhelming support for the protection of these children, as there is in the rest of the country. I think this could have an energizing effect on Latino voters," says Clarissa Martinez del Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns for National Council of La Raza.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is defending his effort to prevent non-U.S. citizens from voting in his state after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to stop him on Tuesday.

Scott told NPR's Michel Martin on Tell Me More Wednesday that after learning his state didn't verify the citizenship status of registered voters, he's trying to ensure that the ballots of U.S. citizens aren't diminished:

As both parties turn to the general election, and the potentially pivotal role of minority voters, battles over voter identification and other new state election laws are intensifying.

Declaring that a "national emergency" exists in public education, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shifted from his usual economic message to outline his education platform during a speech to a Latino business group Wednesday.

Romney pledged to provide federal funding for "every" child from low-income families, or those with special needs, to attend the public, public charter or, in some cases, private school of their parents' choice. The proposals are boilerplate Republican Party planks.

If young voters were the breakout stars of the 2008 presidential election, then Latino voters may take center stage this year.

Every other week or so, it seems, a new poll gauges Latinos' opinions about the candidates, the issues and their level of engagement. Both parties are pouring millions into their Latino outreach. Latino politicians have assumed prominent roles in the conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties. And a Latino senator is on the short list of potential running mates for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

If the parents of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin can use social media and the Internet to demand justice, so, too, can the boy's killer.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the week in the spotlight as the latest potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The Hispanic lawmaker, anointed as the party's best hope for appealing to more Latino voters, came loaded for bear — rolling out an alternative to the Democrats' Dream Act.

In the wake of the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, his parents have led a national call for the arrest of gunman George Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, their lawyers have hired a marketing firm. Trayvon's mother is trying to trademark two popular slogans that contain his name. And the family is establishing a nonprofit to handle donations from supporters.