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Mayor Walsh reactivates city’s Human Rights Commission to help immigrant communities

Evandro Carvalho (left), who served for five years as a state representative , will be executive director of the reactivated Human Rights Commission.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/File 2018/Globe Staff

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced recently that the city is going to reactivate its Human Rights Commission after more than a decade of dormancy, pledging the panel will pay special attention to immigrant communities amid the fraught national political climate.

Here is a snapshot of the commission and its responsibilities.

What does the Human Rights Commission do?

The commission, which was established in 1984 to “guarantee that all residents are given fair and equal treatment under the law,” has not been active since 1996, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. The seven-member body was appointed by the mayor. It was originally created to receive and investigate complaints regarding discrimination related to the workplace, housing, credit, education, public accommodations, and other areas, according to Walsh’s office. Now, a focus will be immigrant issues at a time when the Trump administration has made a priority of restricting immigration.


What authority does the commission have?

The commission has the power to conduct hearings and call witnesses, and can issue reports and the results of investigations. It also has the power to adopt rules and regulations and recommend legislation to the City Council and the mayor, Walsh’s office said.

Who will lead the commission?

Evandro Carvalho will serve as its executive director. Carvalho is an attorney who served for five years as a state representative. Born in Cabo Verde, Carvalho emigrated to Dorchester at the age of 15 and attended the Boston Public Schools.

After graduating from the top of his class at Madison Park High, he went to earn degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Howard University School of Law.

“I’m honored to be chosen by Mayor Walsh to lead the Human Rights Commission,” Carvalho said in the statement. “At this time in our country, I’m proud Boston has doubled down on our commitment to protect and advance the rights of all people. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of our beautiful City in this new capacity. I thank Mayor Walsh for this opportunity.”


Walsh weighs in.

“As attacks on human rights continue from the highest levels of our country, here in Boston, we’re committed to preserving and advancing human rights, including in our immigrant communities,” the mayor said. “I’m proud to activate this crucial commission, and look forward to Evandro’s strong leadership and track record of helping people guide this Commission.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.