WASHINGTON — Immigration officials are preparing a nationwide push in January to apprehend and deport Central American families who arrived in recent years and have been ordered by immigration judges to leave, according to officials familiar with the plan.

The stepped-up effort will target hundreds of families who decided to follow often-dangerous smuggling routes into the U.S., fleeing escalating violence and harsh economic conditions in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, but whose requests for asylum have been denied.

Agents are not planning to return to workplace raids or other dragnet-style tactics that can lead to the indiscriminate deportation of people in the country illegally, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans that have not been approved.

More than 100,000 families from Central America have crossed illegally into the U.S. since last year. Some have won permission to stay, but many cases are pending.

The deportation effort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal officers would target Central American migrants who have arrived in the U.S. recently, whose requests for asylum have been denied and who have received a so-called “final order of removal” since Jan. 1, 2014, the officials said.

The new push is intended to send a signal to people thinking of making the treacherous journey to the U.S. from Central America that they won’t be able to stay if caught. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has repeatedly said that those who came to the country illegally and didn’t meet requirements for protection would be deported. But there have been few public signs that officials were actually willing to follow through.

Officials fear that current policies have done little to deter Central American migrants, who illegally entered the U.S. in record numbers last year. Court decisions over poor conditions for families in immigration detention facilities have limited the number of Central American parents with children who are kept in custody after being apprehended by border officials. Thousands of people have been released with notice to appear later for a hearing.