Benjamin Gross

Research Associate

Ben Gross is entering his senior year at West Nottingham Academy, where he is captain of both the WNA Debate Team and WNA Current Events Club. Ben is interested in all things politics, and intends to major in business and political science. When Ben is not watching his beloved Washington Capitals, he can be found working on his business, Ben’s Antiques and Collectables, which has recently been featured on the entrepreneurial website, An avid watcher of Law and Order: SVU, Ben hopes to one day pursue his interest in the legal field.

Thank You Citizens for Global Solutions!

Ben Gross

As one of the youngest interns in Citizens for Global Solutions’ long and proud history, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous when I walked in the door on my first day. And while it was true that I have had a deep interest in politics since I was child, I was unsure of whether I had made the right decision by choosing to intern at CGS over the ACLU, one of the largest and most well-respected non-profits in the world.

But after eight weeks at CGS, I can tell you that I definitely made the right choice.

Brought on in early June to work as a Campaigns and Communications Research Associate, I quickly gained valuable insights into the issues that CGS is passionate about, like bettering human rights around the globe and supporting international cooperation to combat climate change. I learned that the US is surprisingly not a signatory to some of the world’s most universally-accepted treaties, including those that support women’s rights and protect our oceans.

Journalist’s Detention Highlights Importance of Immigration Reform

US Border Control officers released Jose Antonio Vargas last Wednesday, after holding him overnight at an airport in McAllen, TX, for failing to provide proper identification. Vargas, 33, is a Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist and the star of the critically-acclaimed film Documented, which chronicles Vargas' life in the US as an undoucmented migrant.

Vargas’ arrest sparked outrage in the US, where he had lived for more than two decades without a single encounter with law enforcement.

Vargas initially came to the US at the age of 12, with a man who allegedly was his uncle. After successfully crossing the border with this “uncle," Vargas went to California to live with his grandfather and grandmother, both of whom were naturalized US citizens.

In California, Vargas enrolled in a nearby middle school, where he quickly assimilated into American life and customs. He mastered English, acquired friends, and aspired toward “typical” teenage goals like learning to drive.

Vargas discovered that his Green Card was fake when applying for a driver’s license. He confronted his grandfather, seeking the truth about his citizenship status. His grandfather confessed that Vargas’ supposed “uncle” was really a coyote, hired to bring Vargas over the border illegally.

Vargas’ story is further complicated by the recent passage of Obama’s Dream Act, which provides a legal path to citizenship for those who came to the US as young children, stayed at least five years, and graduated from high school. Vargas is 33, and the Dream Act only applies to persons aged 15-30.

UN Peacekeeping in Syria and Iraq: Why not?

UN Peacekeepers at Work.

"Do you see UN Peacekeeping as a viable option to help solve the humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq?” I asked Hervé Ladsous, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Couldn’t UN Peacekeepers help remedy the enormous humanitarian dilemma that has resulted from these two crises-- with millions now suffering from a shortage of food and clean water?

“The answer to your question is no,” stated Mr. Ladsous, without even the slightest hesitation. “We wish we could help the people suffering, but the magnitude of the two crises is simply much too large for the UN to handle.”

It was at that point I found myself disagreeing with one of the world’s leaders in peacekeeping. For if we wish to help solve two of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, UN Peacekeepers must be involved.

They must be involved because they are undoubtedly the best and most well-trained peacekeeping group in the entire world. They are experts at delivering supplies to those who need them, and quickly. They are adept at helping to mend differences between ethnic groups, often healing situations that many had previously thought were beyond repair. They remain 100 percent committed to their missions no matter the circumstance--some even paying the ultimate price in a concerted effort to help make the world a better place.

Now, I understand that some of you may be looking at me sideways at this point, and are thinking of the various studies that have recently come out declaring that UN Peacekeeping is only marginally effective, if that. You probably want an answer for some of the UN Peacekeeping’s failures--like the Rwanda catastrophe in 1994 or Kosovo’s bloody civil war in 1999, and you deserve one.