But no question of spinning once on the other side: they are waiting for the authorities to surrender.

“We don’t want to enter illegally, we want to apply for asylum,” insists the 30-year-old father who asks to remain anonymous.

Far from certain clichés in force in the United States which make migrants dangerous illegal immigrants without faith or law, the couple and their two children are quietly sitting in the shade on the American side, eating bananas and drinking water that have been deposited there by the border police.

Immigration divides American society and will be a major issue for President Joe Biden in the midterm elections later this year.

The subject, potentially explosive, should also be at the heart of the discussions between leaders of the region at the Summit of the Americas which opened in Los Angeles on Monday.

Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States had activated during the pandemic a health regulation supposed to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

Called “Title 42”, this measure makes it possible to deport anyone who crosses the land border with Mexico without having a valid visa, even asylum seekers.

But the vast majority of migrants who come to the informal crossing point at the Yuma gap still manage to apply for asylum as in the past, because they are accompanied by children or because they are in danger in their country of origin.

“We see migrants coming from a lot of different countries,” agent Fidel Cabrera, of the United States border police, told AFP.

The breach in the border wall, a simple hole between two sections of metal poles, is one of the reasons for this influx, but other factors are at play.

“The type of migrants we see now are different” because most can afford to travel by air, Cabrera says.

“We are very close to two international airports, (then) they take some form of transport and it often takes them less than an hour to get here,” he explains.

Many buses ply the road between the airports of Mexicali or Tijuana and the small Mexican town of Algodones, nicknamed “molar-town” because of the many dentists who welcome Americans in search of cheaper care.

From the road to the wall, a thirty to forty minute walk through sand and brush is enough.

But with temperatures that easily exceed 40°C, it’s not a walk in the park.

This is the reason why the police leave food and water for those waiting near the wall to be registered.

In Yuma, only 11% of migrants who have presented themselves to border police since September have been deported under “Title 42”.

The others do not automatically benefit from asylum but have a chance to present their request before the American justice.

– “They are just passing through” –

The passage of migrants – already more than 100,000 this year – is little noticed in Yuma, a quiet town rather famous for its production of lettuces, assures Mayor Douglas Nicholls.

“They are just passing through. When the border police release them, they must have a host family or a place to go,” he explains.

“I never heard of any of them staying more than a day or two in Yuma.”

After two hours of waiting, the young Colombian father is finally able to hand over his passport to an American agent.

The family will be allowed to file their asylum application in the United States, which will likely take several years to process.

The father assures us that he does not recognize himself in the representation of economic migrants vilified by conservative American television channels, which accuse them of simply wanting to come and take advantage of the jobs and wealth of the United States.

“Nobody leaves their home just because they want to. If you leave, it’s because you have to,” he insists.