Illegal alien with prior criminal history allegedly kills motorist while illegally driving forklift

· November 25, 2019  
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On November 17, Ulises Mondragon Umanzor, 30, an illegal alien from El Salvador, was arrested for allegedly running a stop sign while driving a forklift and fatally striking James Zakos, a 70-year-old Floridian, whose car had the right of way. Mondragon Umanzor reportedly failed to stop and return to the scene of the accident.

There are two important points in this case that should spawn a robust public policy debate on immigration enforcement: Mondragon Umanzor did not have either a valid driver’s license or a license to operate heavy machinery, and he had a history of trouble with the law on the roads. Had our laws been enforced, he shouldn’t have been able to get a job here, and he should have been deported on numerous occasions. He had been caught at least three times since 2011 driving without a license.

Earlier this year, Florida passed a law barring any potential “sanctuary” jurisdictions from ignoring ICE detainers on criminal aliens who pass through local jails. However, even jurisdictions that don’t thwart ICE could still do a lot more to prevent crime by illegal aliens if they would actively notify ICE upon the first infraction of an illegal alien they contact. As demonstrated by this case, illegal aliens are often caught for relatively minor driving infractions. Yet they are able to cycle in and out of the local court system without ever being turned over to ICE. That appears to be what happened in this case. Had the system been working the way it should, Zakos would still be alive.

Here is Mondragon Umanzor’s criminal history just from Palm Beach County:

  • On Sept. 12, 2011, Mondragon Umanzor was arrested in Palm Beach County for driving without a license and for driving with an open container of alcohol.
  • Just a few months later, in February 2012, he was caught again driving without a license.
  • On Nov. 4, 2012, he was arrested for possession of cocaine.
  • In Sept. 2016, he was caught driving without a license.
  • In May 2018, he was caught driving around a barricade, of course without a license. He accrued over $1,000 in outstanding debt to the court.

Why was someone like this never deported? In 2012, he was even pre-emptively suspended from having a license by the court, despite never having had one, all without anybody ever giving a thought to deporting him. While these seem like minor charges for which we wouldn’t lock up Americans too long, they can portend serious public danger and are all habitual crimes. As such, there’s no reason we should be taking chances with people who should be removed from the country anyway at the first sign of trouble.

It should be standard procedure that any time a resident interacts with police or with a court, he is asked a simple question: “Of which country are you a citizen?” Then, local cops should be required to notify ICE about anyone who does not answer, “The United States.” That way, we can ensure that this is the last act of reckless driving committed by this individual in the U.S.

In fact, police are already required to find out citizenship, ironically, for the good of the alien, pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). Florida, like every state requires police to ascertain the country of citizenship in order to notify consular officials that a national of their country has been detained. Why doesn’t every every arrest or detention by police therefore preclude any situation where a foreign national is released without the federal government knowing about it?

So much crime could be prevented by following this simple international protocol. If it’s good enough for the sake of the alien to discover his citizenship status upon any arrest, it should be good enough for the security of our communities.



In September, another illegal alien in Palm Beach County was arrested for numerous child sex charges. As I noted at the time, given this man’s three arrests for driving without a license, the abuse of these children could have been avoided.

In addition to proactively requiring documentation of citizenship for any traffic citation or arrest, Florida officials have a golden opportunity to stop illegal alien crime by implementing mandatory E-Verify, a top agenda item pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in the upcoming legislative session. The other obvious question in the case of Mondragon Umanzor is how in the world was he working as a forklift driver when he had no driver’s license or license to operate machinery? The Miami Herald reports that he worked for a subcontractor of Skansa USA, listed as “Cast One” on the police report. While there are unanswered questions about how any individual with this man’s background could have a job driving heavy machinery, this is another example of how E-Verify would ensure dangerous individuals are not able to obtain jobs in this country at all.

As Florida prepares to debate mandatory E-Verify and the effect of illegal aliens on the wages of Floridian workers, one thing that ought not to be overlooked is the system’s effect on demagnetizing Florida as a destination for dangerous criminals. It’s not just a labor issue; it’s a public safety issue.


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.