Despite federal gridlock, immigration reform on the state level is seeing real progress.

As I wrote this week at Town Hall, immigration reformers need not wait until the next Congress to see positive changes to the immigration system. The opportunity to expand legal migration channels via state legislatures is gaining traction. These efforts will help fix the broken U.S. immigration system, improve economic growth, and reduce the size of the illegal population.

Republicans, who won big gains on the state level in the 2014 midterm elections, are now poised to lead on the immigration issue by championing state-based reforms. As the Obama administration focuses on legalization of current undocumented immigrants, Republicans can fix the legal system and score much needed-political points.

At Town Hall I elaborate on state-based visas and their practical application for the United States. From high-tech to construction visas, states understand their economic conditions better than the federal policy makers and can tailor policy accordingly. Introducing a new element of federalism—as is done with drug, welfare, and education policy—will improve immigration policy.

Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah have all pursued some variation of state-based reform in the past. But 2015 is shaping up to be the most impactful year for state reforms.

This year state representatives in both Texas and California have introduced legislation to launch guest-worker programs in their states. Three separate bills were introduced in Texas, including one from the chairman of the State Affairs Committee

The California bill has bipartisan support and has made its way successfully out of the agricultural committee. It now has an August date in the state Senate Appropriations Committee. California considered similar legislation in 2012 but widespread opposition doomed the bill. This version has support from numerous agricultural and business groups, including some that opposed the 2012 version. Prospects are much better.

State-based visa reforms may have 2016 implications. With a group of governors in the race and immigration policy being such a crucial campaign issue, state-based reforms may get some interest. One candidate, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, has already endorsed the idea. With 13 out of 16 Republican candidates supporting expansion of legal immigration, it wouldn’t be surprising if others similarly supported.

State-based visa reform offers immigration advocates a new arena to promote positive reforms. Republicans should rally around legal immigration and begin fixing the broken system before 2017.

You can read the full piece here.