WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — President Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics stands at 70 percent – up 12 points since August.

The 70 percent approval rating, however, is down slightly from the 75 percent he held in the December 2012 daily tracking poll from Gallup. With roughly one-third of interviews being conducted in Spanish, the Gallup poll tracks almost 1,300 Hispanics over time to see how opinions change.

Obama’s popularity is on the rise among all Americans since late summer, rising from 45 percent in August to 52 percent in January — though the January estimate is also down slightly from December’s 53 percent.

That seven-point August to January increase among all Americans is only about half as large as the increase for Hispanics over the same months.

With a major priority being placed on immigration reform at the outset of his second term, President Obama is enjoying a strong position with a group that he has held onto tightly since his first term as president began. Gallup predicts that should the immigration legislation pass – and the momentum toward action has picked up recently with Republicans jumping on board – Obama’s approval may increase even more in upcoming months.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, there has been an average 13-point gap between the approval rating of Hispanics (62 percent) and that of all Americans (49 percent). Now, the gap stands at 18 points, 70 percent to 52 percent, indicating Hispanics are becoming some of the president’s most ardent supporters.

The nation’s total immigrant population reached a record 40.4 million in 2011, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

The most recent Pew Hispanic Center estimate is that 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2011. Unauthorized immigration peaked at 12.0 million in 2007, and fell since then mainly because of less immigration from Mexico, the largest source of U.S. immigration.