An upcoming issue of Security Magazine will cover the need for chief security officers and human resource directors to take greater care concerning new employees and the need to meet I-9 requirements by using the government’s e-Verify program.

What follows are interviews on the current state of immigration by the founder and president of the Minuteman Project Jim Gilchrist. The Minuteman Project is an activist organization started in April 2005 by a group of private individuals in the United States to monitor the United States–Mexico border's flow of illegal immigrants. Co-founded by Jim Gilchrist, the name derives from the Minutemen, militiamen who fought in the American Revolution. The Minuteman Project describes itself as "a citizens' Neighborhood Watch on our border," and has attracted media attention to illegal immigration. It also has a controversial profile.

For the first time since he arrived in the United States 27 years ago, Isidro Alvarado, a day laborer in Vista, says he's thinking about going home to Mexico.

Alvarado said he is finding it increasingly hard to get work here.

He's not alone.

A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center, a research organization, reported that Latino immigrants ---- legal and illegal ---- have been hit hard by the nation's struggling economy, and some are returning home.

That's playing out locally. Officials with two North County day labor centers run by nonprofit agencies said they have seen a steady decline in the number of employers looking for workers.

Work is one of the main reasons why illegal immigrants such as Alvarado come to this country.

Alvarado said he resorted to standing at the corner of South Santa Fe and Escondido avenues in Vista three months ago, when he lost his job at a construction company.

He gets odd jobs from homeowners and small contractors moving furniture, landscaping and painting, he said.

"This year, it got ugly," Alvarado, 32, said. "Many people are out of work and don't even have money for presents. It doesn't even feel like Christmas."

Over the last week, he said, he has worked only one day and is struggling to make ends meet.

At about 10 a.m. Tuesday, no employer had stopped to offer work to the more than 50 men standing on the sidewalk, many of whom were illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Gordon Hanson, an economist at UC San Diego who specializes in immigration issues, said the jury is still out as to whether immigrants are leaving the U.S. because of the economy.

He said much of the data that is available was culled before the economic crisis deepened late this year.

But there are early indications they are leaving, Hanson said.

"This is an expensive place to live, and some of the hardest hit areas in the economy are construction, hospitality and retail," industries that rely heavily on immigrant labor, Hanson said.

In North County, Interfaith Community Services officials said fewer and fewer employers have come to them looking for workers in recent years.

For example, there were 248 employers in October 2005, 137 in October 2006, 78 in October 2007 and 82 in October 2008.

Officials noted that October 2007 was an unusual month because of the wildfires, when the office was closed for a few days.

The number of workers hired through the center also has declined: 489 in October 2005, 197 in October 2006, 117 in October 2007 and 128 in October 2008.

Officials with SER Jobs for Progress, a nonprofit organization that runs a labor center in Carlsbad, said they also have seen a drop in employers looking for workers.

Immigration analysts agree that illegal immigrants come here for the jobs.

When there are fewer jobs, there are fewer immigrants.

There are other signs: Fewer immigrants are getting caught crossing the border illegally, according to the U.S. Border Patrol, and immigrants are sending less money home.

Border Patrol statistics show that 723,825 people were caught in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, down about 18 percent from last year.

Mexico's central bank reported that remittances by Mexicans living in the U.S. dropped 12 percent in August, down to $1.9 billion, from $2.2 billion in August 2007.

Several of the day laborers in Vista joked about leaving, but many said they had no choice but to stay and weather the economic storm.

"Even if I wanted to leave, I don't have money to go back," said a middle-aged man from Mexico City who did not want to give his name because he is in the country illegally.

Some men said they had nothing to go back to.

"What are we going to do over there?" asked a Guatemalan man, who also did not want his name used. "Plant squash? It's better to live here."

Many of the men said companies are increasingly asking for proof that they are eligible to work legally in the country, such as a valid Social Security number.

U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, said the increased efforts to crack down on illegal immigration by the Bush administration, such as workplace raids, coupled with the bad economy, are forcing more people to return home.

Bilbray leads the Immigration Reform Caucus, a group of congressional members who advocate for stricter immigration controls.

Alvarado, the day laborer, said he has been borrowing from friends and family to pay his rent. He said his wife does not want to go back to Mexico.

But if things don't improve soon, he said, they may have no choice.

"If the economy gets worse and you don't have enough to pay rent, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go?" Alvarado asked. "I hope I don't have to go back. I hope things get better next year."