Sen. (D-W.Va.) said on Monday that he will back legislation to prevent the separation of immigrant families along the border, solidifying Democratic support for the bill.
Manchin’s decision means all 49 members of the Democratic caucus, which includes independent Sens. (Vt.) and (Maine), are signing on to the legislation.
“As a father, grandfather, and Christian, I am wholeheartedly opposed to any policy that allows innocent children to be separated from their parents as they enter our country,” Manchin said in a statement.
“No law requires pulling children from the arms of their parents,” he added.
The legislation, spearheaded by Democratic Sen. (Calif.), would only allow children to be separated from a parent if they are being abused, trafficked or if a court decides “it is in the best interests of the child.”
As of late last week, it had the support of 43 Democratic senators. Five more red-state Democrats – Sens. (Mo.), Doug Jones (Ala.), (Mont.), (Ind.) and (N.D.) – announced over the weekend they would sign on to the bill, leaving Manchin as the party’s the last remaining hold out.
Manchin, McCaskill, Tester, Donnelly and Heitkamp are running for states easily won by Trump during the 2016 election.
The Feinstein bill, however, faces an unlikely, uphill climb in a GOP-controlled Congress, despite growing backlash over the Trump administration’s policies that are resulting in the separation of immigrant families at the border.
No Republican senator has said they will support Feinstein’s bill, which would need 60 votes to clear the Senate.
Manchin added on Monday that the United States needs to “secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws” and that he’s talking with GOP lawmakers about broader legislation.
“I am actively working with my Republican colleagues to find solutions to the issues that are not addressed” in Feinstein’s bill, he said. “I continue to believe that the comprehensive 2013 immigration bill that included 700 miles of fencing, an addition 20,000 border control agents and other measures to secure our border is where we should begin this process.”