Illegal border crossers arrested along Arizona's stretch of U.S.-Mexican border will soon find themselves facing two weeks to six months in jail, which now is reserved only for repeat crossers and those with criminal records. The sector is working toward a zero-tolerance program known as "Operation Streamline" that is now used in the Yuma and Del Rio sectors, U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector Chief Robert W. Gilbert told a U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security subcommittee Wednesday. The program is also set to start soon in the Laredo Sector. The program creates a deterrent that dramatically alters the dynamics along the border. First-time offenders would be charged with a misdemeanor "entry without inspection," which carries a jail sentence of 15 to 180 days. Repeat offenders could be charged with felony re-entry and imprisoned up to two years. Most illegal entrants from Mexico apprehended here are currently allowed to return home voluntarily unless a records check shows they have been detained repeatedly or have a criminal history. Only a small fraction of the illegal crossers are prosecuted. Officials are in the process of meeting with representatives from the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Magistrate and Public Defenders Office, among others, to iron out the logistics of implementing the new policy. Officials hope to implement the program it as soon as possible, preferably within the fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, he said. Officials in both the Del Rio and Yuma sectors have reported dramatic decreases in apprehensions since launching the operation. In Yuma, which implemented it in December 2006, apprehensions decreased by 68 percent in fiscal year 2007, said Jeremy Schappell, Border Patrol Yuma Sector spokesman. Officials there attribute that to additional fencing, lighting, agents and Operation Streamline.