ATLANTA - A groundbreaking Channel 2 Action News investigation has exposed a pattern involving thousands of unauthorized immigrants convicted of violent crimes. Many are removed from the United States multiple times after committing even more crimes.
Not even broken English can hide Nepalese native Mayaa Gurung's broken heart over the murder of her daughter, Manju Poonmagar.
"Now she's not home. Not here now. Very hard," Gurung told investigative reporter Aaron Diamant.
Sergio Vera-Lula recently pleaded guilty and got a life sentence for killing Poonmagar outside her Cobb County apartment in 2013.
"I need to meet with that guy," Gurung cried. "Why you kill my daughter?"
Poonmagar emigrated legally just two years before her death. Prosecutors found her murder capped off a two-week crime spree by Vera-Lula.
"He killed somebody in my county, and so that stuff amps me up. It does. It bothers me. It concerns me," said Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
Most concerning for Reynolds is the fact Vera-Lula was in the United States illegally. Federal authorities had already sent him back to Mexico three times, but he kept coming back through what Reynolds and other critics call our southern border's revolving door.
"I'm confident we could go to any of the courtrooms that we service day in and day out and find representatives of this same circumstance," Reynolds stated.
Diamant spent months analyzing millions of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal records for fiscal years 2003 through 2013. The information was released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Of the 386,485 unauthorized immigrants removed from the United States in 2013, 222,972 of them - 60% - had at least prior removal. 42,116 of the total unauthorized immigrants removed that year had been convicted of an aggravated felony. Of those felons, 27,159 had been removed before. That's 64%.
Among the aggravated felons who had been removed at least once before were 281 killers, 178 kidnappers, 1149 sex criminals and thousands convicted on drug charges.
Diamant took those numbers to Jessica Vaughn with the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.
"My first reaction when I saw the results of your analysis was wow," said Vaughn. "Those absolute numbers are huge."
Vaughn studies these kind of number for her job. Still, she was surprised.
"I've never looked at the data the very same way, and I don't think anybody else has either," Vaughn added.
The data showed Georgia ranked first in deportations among all non-border states, and fourth overall behind only Texas, Arizona and California.
In Georgia, federal authorities deported 7120 unauthorized immigrants in fiscal year 2013. 1173 of them had aggravated felony convictions. Of those, 513 (44%) had at least one prior removal. That includes nine convicted killers, 10 kidnappers, nearly 40 sex criminals and hundreds convicted on drug charges.
Those numbers shocked Georgia Senator David Perdue, who sits on the Senate's Judiciary Committee.
"These statistics that you're exposing now creates energy back home that creates pressure on politicians. And when you create pressure on politicians then things starts to happen (in Washington)," Perdue said.
Diamant also showed the numbers to Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville, who is on the House Judiciary Committee.
"To the families who've been victimized by those who have been deported and come back and they've been victimized by these folks who shouldn't be in the country to begin with, this is not a political game, it's just the honest truth."
Poonmagar was Sujit Magar's stepmother. His family echoed the call for fair immigration reform that keeps violent deported felons from coming back.
"America does so many other great things," Magar said. "I think if they really look into it, really put work to what has to be done, all these things could be stopped."
Diamant asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaders to weigh in on all this, but so far the agency has turned down all of our requests for an interview.