Atlas Free’s Chief Impact Officer, John Richmond, testified this week before the U.S. House Homeland Security Subcommittees on Border Security and Enforcement and Emergency Management and Technology on the issue of human trafficking at the southern border. In his testimony, Richmond clarified the distinction between human smuggling and trafficking, emphasizing that while border crossings increase vulnerability, they do not directly cause trafficking.
“Traffickers prey on vulnerable people because the traffickers believe vulnerable people are easier to exploit—and undocumented individuals are exceptionally vulnerable. Many things make people vulnerable to those bent on evil: poverty, illiteracy, disabilities, lack of strong families—yet none of these vulnerabilities cause human trafficking. . . The root cause of human trafficking is traffickers.” —Richmond
He emphasized the impact of government enforcement, noting that the failure to enforce border and trafficking laws creates an environment where traffickers operate with impunity. An important aspect discussed by Richmond and members of the committee was the connection between human trafficking and the import of goods produced by forced labor victims. He called on Congress to take a consistent approach to human rights and enforce its laws, such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, to end the import of products made through forced labor.
Richmond urged Congress to promptly reauthorize the international provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. He also advocated for the creation of new pathways for trafficking survivors to reintegrate into society and emphasized screening undocumented individuals for trafficking indicators during border enforcement.
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Richmond is an attorney and diplomat focused on ethical business, human rights, democracy, and rule of law. His career has taken him to the front lines in the global battle against human trafficking. He serves as the Chief Impact Officer at Atlas Free, working to accelerate and resource organizations fighting human trafficking. Previously, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Ambassador Richmond, and he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons from 2018 to 2021.