Tijuana's makeshift camps on Mexico/US border test hopes of 4,000 migrants

It took us just 10 minutes to cross the border from the US to Mexico. And four and a half hours to cross back.

That was doing it officially, with all the right paperwork, and without being in the crosshairs of Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

What hope then for those who have travelled across Central America hoping that journeying en masse would highlight their desperation and force the US authorities to allow them in?

This caravan of the desperate and aspirational has been on the move for over a month. Their journeys began predominantly in Honduras and El Salvador, spurred on by poverty and violence.

That hope is tested now in a makeshift camp in Tijuana on the Mexico/US border, where from beneath old blankets, bits of tarpaulin or battered tents, 4,000 are camped out just a few metres from the land they seek.

In reality a geographical closeness is all they have. Such is the US’s determination to keep them out they are a very long way from the American dream.

Two Honduran men pose for a picture after the group climbed the border wall separating Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego. Credit: AP

Four thousand are now gathered in the grounds of a stadium. They are the first of the arrivals, thousands more are still travelling.

This rag-tag group - journeying by foot, by car, on the back of lorries, pretty much any form of transport - have found themselves on the battle lines of US politics. Donald Trump describing their movement as “an invasion” as he fought for votes in the mid-term elections.

He dispatched the military, raised the razor wire on the border and promised there would be no chance of entry. The orders to the military from their commander in chief to use lethal force if necessary.

Yet this does not deter them. Some will go through the agonisingly slow process of seeking asylum - likely to take years with only a 20% chance of success. Others will take the chance of breaching the border one way or another. Their chances of success are not much higher and come at great risk.

Migrants have travelled hundreds of miles in the hope of reaching America. Credit: ITV News

While these choices are being made, it falls to the city of Tijuana to host them. It is costing millions. The local mayor, who insists they must be treated with dignity despite a reportedly harder line a few weeks ago, fears for the effect it will have on the city. This place was built on migration but not with such big numbers all at one time.

There have already been protests - small groups of locals unhappy at the effect their arrival is having on the place they call home.

It is not hard to see why. Tijuana is not without its problems. This year 2,000 people have been murdered already. In the hours we were filming, three people were shot in drive by shootings. The police came, the ambulances scooped them up and life continued. This is not unusual here, violence is ever present.

Some migrants will seek asylum in the US - but they only have a 20% chance of success. Credit: ITV News

What happens when those who, for now, still have hope start to lose it, when the camp becomes a more permanent home with all the issues that will create? The strain on this city can only increase.

Those who fled fear, poverty and hopelessness are likely to find all the same problems, just in a different place. They sought the American dream.

That dream is likely to fade beneath the boundary wall of the camp, in plain sight of the place they so believed could offer sanctuary.