She entered the United States fresh from high school graduation in Mexico, moving north with her family after the unexpected death of her father. After suffering humiliation at the hands of an employer belittling her over her language skills, she took a number of classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Those classes sparked interests in further education, which eventually resulted in recognition for Emir Estrada as a sociocultural anthropologist to be reckoned with. Her research has focused on the roles of children in immigrant families who depend on street vending to make a living in the U.S.

As a child, she had herself helped her family street-vending business, so as an adult her eyes and attention were drawn to the kids helping their families out on the streets of Los Angeles. “Early on, I learned that all family members had to work in the family business in order to contribute to the family economy,” Estrada told an interviewer.

She has paid particular attention to the gender-related roles the kids often find themselves in. Girls are often tasked with food preparation, while boys can find themselves having to deal with threats and gang violence.

Her research shows that street-vending kids mature at a young age because of their participation in their family’s economy. A downside, she says, is that the kids also see up close their parents’ struggles with oppression.

Estrada is also mindful of the role the U.S. immigration system plays in the lives of immigrants. New study is aimed at following DREAMers on treks to and from Mexico.

A Chicago immigration law firm can help protect immigrant family rights, and help them find their way through a complex system.