CHAPEL HILL — Administrators at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have been preparing faculty and staff for possible inquiries from federal law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to emails released to the Raleigh News & Observer in response to multiple Freedom of Information Act filings. The N&O’s investigation, published September 7, was prompted by earlier reporting by NC Policy Watch, which began hearing complaints about ICE visits to campus earlier this summer when they published portions of an email sent to colleagues by Department of Psychiatry chairman David Rubinow. Rubinow’s concerns were sparked at a briefing he attended named “Guidelines for Handling Information Requests from Federal Agents,” where he was informed that “apparently, visits to University work areas are now occurring.” In an attempt to quell concerns, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost released a memo to all deans and department heads in May, which spelled out the official policy. When approached by federal or state agents, the memo explained, they should be immediately directed to University Police, who will be best equipped to handle any questions. The emailed memo provided links to a website hosting a detailed frequently-asked-questions page to address specific worries. The page encourages “students and scholars studying or working in non-immigrant status and DACA and undocumented students and employees seek the advice of an immigration attorney” if they feel unprepared to handle a surprise visit by federal officers. The Sundial spoke with ICE Southern Regional Communications Director Bryan Cox by phone, who expressed perplexity at the recent uptick in calls from the Chapel Hill area. His organization has a longstanding policy against enforcing immigration laws in what are called “sensitive locations.” Sites considered off-limits include schools, hospitals, churches and religious ceremonies. Cox did note that only the organization’s immigration division would be subject to that rule. “We also have a criminal investigative division,” he explained. “We enforce more than 400 federal statutes involving the illegal movement of people and goods. “The [sensitive locations] policy would not preclude agents doing a criminal investigation of something else,” such as drug or weapons trafficking, Cox said. However, “I’ve checked with our folks to see if there has been some specific recent incident at UNC, and there has not.” The Sundial reached out to UNC’s media relations office, but has received no comment as of this publication.