"Without the foreign miners, the copper mines would not have thrived, and the descendants of those miners would not have gone on to become doctors, engineers, teachers, electricians, shop owners and civic leaders," Brunell writes.
Today, immigrants are playing a major role in Washington's economy, particularly in agriculture where immigrant workers often take jobs that citizen's won't.
That's one reason why Brunell went to Yakima last week to sign the Washington Compact, a set of guidelines that a coalition of community, faith, business and law enforcement groups want Congress to consider as lawmakers take up the issue of immigration reform.
Previous attempts to reform the system have failed, Brunell noted. And questions remain for Congress and President Obama to answer about how, exactly, it would work.
"But they need to buckle down and act this year," Brunell writes.