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Reese Barber came to Beijing with high hopes of a great paying job with full benefits and an easy load as an ESL teacher. The school that hired him, Jelly Belly Bean English, promised a work visa upon arrival and told him that his visa was official. Barber innocently trusted the tutoring center and has been working for them for six months.
Then during a scheduled audit by district officials, Jelly Belly Bean English asked Barber to simply not show up to work that week. When Barber pushed for the reason, his teacher assistant broke under pressure and blurted, “You’re an illegal alien!”
Barber was shocked.
“I was worried that this audit was some sort of prejudice, but in fact, I’ve been swindled. I am an illegal alien.”
Barber is facing an extreme moral dilemma and personal crisis.
“This is against everything I stand for. I voted for Trump to build a wall and keep illegals out of the US. I voted for him to keep dangerous terrorists out of the country. Yet here I am on the other side of the world, muddying his squeaky-clean reputation. I am not worthy to be an American.”
What’s worse is that the tutoring center has steeped to new lows of coercion. After the audit was over, they demanded Barber keep working to the end of his contract.
“They’re holding my passport and saying that they’ll turn me into the authorities if I don’t keep working,” Barber said, running his hands through unwashed hair.
“I have a dog to worry about. I can’t just turn them in and face the possibility of deportation. Where would my furry friend go?”
When asked why he doesn’t pursue the steps of the work visa on his own, he responded, “I can’t understand the language and can’t do that on my own. This is their job, not mine. I’m not at fault here.”
Barber sat for a few moments, fuming in silence.
“I will say this, I’m ruined for being nice and trusting these schools. No more of that. If they don’t have a work visa for me before I start working, I’m not going to work.”
Jelly Belly Bean English couldn’t be reached for comment, though upon research, we were unable to find an education license assigned to their name. The reality may be they could not have provided a work visa in the first place.
Illegal workers are as prominent as black taxis in China. Some teachers genuinely unknowingly work as illegal aliens, while others boldly work and receive pay under the table. Regardless of your situation, Chinese law does not allow work unless conducted on a work visa acquired before entrance into the country.