28 Immigrant Victims from 1948 Plane Crash Finally Recognized

Decades after Woody Guthrie protest poem, immigrant victims of plane crash are recognized.
7:01 | 08/29/13

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Transcript for 28 Immigrant Victims from 1948 Plane Crash Finally Recognized
I think one of the first reasons that people react to stories because immigration hot word right now within the second thing I think is the fact that. You have an American folk hero. Tied directly to -- Woody -- and in the mystique of the blind. So there's a kind of -- you know when you put those DC and he creates an interesting story. We -- I hill hearings regarding the OJ is. That was originally working on a book that took place in 1947 and 48 and has also been research and library with an old newspapers. And while I was the -- newspapers one day. I solace headlining jumped out at me and instead some into the effect of 100 people -- When -- prisoners -- CNN and if things fall from the sky. -- started to read the article. And I realized at some point -- this -- the -- incident that wouldn't that's been written about some things -- tackles. The deportees saw. -- 1948 there was a program with Mexico through the federal government to allow workers to come to the US -- our. Troops were taking -- World War -- so there was a shortage of workers and -- through this for Sarah program there were allowed to come to the US for 45 days wants or contracts were they were in the -- taken back to the border these twenty. Mexican nationals. And boarded a DC three plane from -- -- headed to el centro California. And about an hour into their flight to the left -- caught fire and the plane crashed in what's called -- -- -- canyon. And you're calling -- So we here at the actual site of the plane -- you know after the plane came down over the over that ridge there. He continued down here and this is actually -- and lodged itself in the nose of the plane finally hit and no plane crashed in the -- there. And down this is when they're pretty this -- -- to point out the bodies the human bodies from. And some of the families that have been able to speak with for the for the research for the book. Four eyewitnesses there like ten year old kids basically standing here watching. You know that their parents pulled helped pull bodies out. The reports at that time listed the names of the American crew. Pilot co pilot stewardess and the immigration garden where they were from their age but referred to as the 28 deportees as deportees. The names weren't listed -- drive and draft. Mexican -- And that story was picked up of course by Woody Guthrie who. Did concede that that was a proper treatment or friends -- say that they came here to help us and there are problems and and they were being deferred kids. Deportees. Restaurant reviews friends are scattered -- Yeah well yeah. We haven't named someone -- the government program they're deporting people there's a manifest somewhere why didn't the names published. The twenty year were buried here holy cross cemetery. Right now the headstone is anonymous pretty much says anonymous between Mexican nationals are buried here it's started off as a simple question can see the names and we and -- them. Cemetery -- books only had 28 Mexican nationals. I basically started taking its name one by one do research find out you know you all records through the Freedom of Information Act through Department of Labor. On the Internet you just wherever I could I -- I went everywhere just basically everywhere looking. You know for anything I could find had to do with these names I -- about a year and a half -- Once we have the list was to stop a subpoena -- to a headstone now do righting -- wrong and we had this fund -- to raise 101000 dollars. That's another part of that's been underway with benefit concerts and help from different foundations like Woody Guthrie foundation that Cesar Chavez foundation. When my students heard that Tim wanted to raise money for any plaque or the memorial site my stance -- get involved. And their idea was to have a bake sales. To raise money I -- -- acted that way because a lot of their parents are from me -- it's a farm working community. A lot of their parents work in the field. And I think that they saw. A parent and one of those you know people that passed away are they sought cousin or an uncle or somebody that they could relate to. Donations came from all over the country. There was even some -- were from out of the country from Spain and Australia. We raise the money for -- that's gonna happen now the memorial with their names on textile. My grandfather was a -- set -- He would share stories with us about coming and work in the field -- Watson bill and how hard it was for him and trying to find shelter and food and penalties the different problems with -- army was just. Amazing to think what they went through back then. When we use a word like immigration or even more recently you know illegal aliens we -- the face the humanity completely out of the people we're talking about we're no longer forced to to be accountable. We're no longer forced to face those that we're talking about you know look in the ninth saying. You know you're a human being that I want to send back -- human being I want to do. Access to these things it's easier to do that we use big words like immigration. So the night of the fund raiser for the deportees memorial -- here's his. Old old -- Pakistan -- -- like 859 years old she was -- It's so wonderful what you -- guys are doing she -- thinking. She -- this means so much that people. I was like. -- There was like my grandpa -- him back you know. I got teary -- I just said don't think you. I don't know what it's like to have to -- knock on the back door of a restaurant and see if there's no Mexicans and blacks allowed that lady. Who said thank you to me. She knew what that's like that's why she was there in for me. Doing this. It's like think you -- Yeah. Okay. Do. -- Okay.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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