Homeland Security officials reportedly planned to arrest thousands of migrant families who had final deportation orders and remove them from the US in a show of force.

The arrests would have targeted parents and children in 10 cities with large populations of immigrants living in the US illegally, specifically New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

However the plans were put on hold by then-Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) head Ron Vitiello and then-secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to interviews with officials conducted by the Washington Post and the Associated Press.

The proposal was intended to send a message and possibly deter others from crossing the border, the officials said, and was supported by Donald Trump‘s senior adviser Stephen Miller and ICE’s deputy director Matthew Albence.

But Mr Vitiello and Ms Nielsen reportedly put the proposal aside over concerns about diverting resources from the border, a lack of detention spaces and the possibility of renewed public outrage over the treatment of migrant families.