Only 31 percent of American adults approve of U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of the immigration issue, new data from Gallup reveals.  Meanwhile 65 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue.

That’s a sea change from early 2013, when 46 percent of American adults approved of Obama’s handling of the issue compared to only 48 percent who disapproved.

What happened?

“Recent developments contributing to the ongoing debate about immigration include Obama’s delay of a review of deportation policies by the Department of Homeland Security in the hope of striking a legislative deal on immigration reform with Congress,” Gallup’s pollsters note. “Also, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent primary loss was widely viewed as a defeat rooted in Cantor’s perceived stance on immigration.”

Only eight percent of Republicans and twenty-five percent of independents now approve of Obama’s immigration policy – down from 20 and 39 percent last year, respectively.

In January, 50 percent of voters said immigration was an “extremely” or “very” important issue for Obama and the U.S. Congress to deal with in the coming year.  That ranked fifteenth on Gallup’s issues matrix, well behind leading concerns such as the economy (89 percent), education (81 percent) and health care (77 percent).

Gallup’s latest poll surveyed 1,027 American adults between June 5-8, 2014.  Its margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.