TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- The federal government refuses to say whether prosecutors in Yuma, Arizona, have scaled back a years-old program that guarantees jail time for most immigrants caught crossing the border illegally and which law enforcement officials say is crucial to public safety.Reports that federal prosecutors have stopped some prosecutions under Operation Streamline surfaced nearly two weeks ago when Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder seeking information on the status of the zero-tolerance program that circumvents the civil immigration system and lumps together months' worth of criminal proceedings into one day for immigrants caught crossing the border illegally.
Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said in a letter to the senators that he had been informed that federal prosecutors in Yuma are no longer going after first offenders.
But the government has been completely silent on the issue. Public affairs officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have all refused to answer questions about whether the program has been scaled back.