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An undocumented mother of four stands in the First Unitarian Society Church in Colorado in 2017, after taking refuge to avoid ICE officers. Photo: Chris Schneider/AFP/Getty Images

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S., announced Wednesday that it had voted to become a "sanctuary church body" for undocumented immigrants, claiming to be the first North American denomination to do so.

What it means: Sanctuary cities and counties, the most frequently designated areas to dub themselves as "sanctuaries," "generally describe places that limit how local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration agents," per the New York Times.

Yes, but: Individual Protestant churches have long been used as de-facto sanctuaries, as undocumented migrants can stay in them to avoid ICE officers. Some pastors offer their churches as shelter to those who fear deportation.

  • ICE officers frequently stay out of a church if undocumented immigrants are staying there, but churches do not provide federal legal sanctuary, Cornell Law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr told CNN.
  • "I think for publicity reasons, immigration enforcement does not like to go into churches," Yale-Loehr added.

The big picture: Religion is fueling a new wave of activism against President Trump's immigration policies. Catholic and Jewish activists have staged protests and created new organizations in recent months to protest the detention of migrant children, as well as ICE itself.

Go deeper: Religion is fueling a new wave of immigration activism

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.