April 24, 2020 / 10:48 PM / a month ago

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to block Trump immigration policy during pandemic

FILE PHOTO: The Supreme Court stands in Washington, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a long-shot bid by New York and two other states to suspend during the coronavirus pandemic a Trump administration immigration policy that denies legal permanent residency to certain immigrants deemed likely to require government assistance in the future.

The court turned away New York’s request, which was joined by the states of Connecticut and Vermont as well as New York City, with none of the nine justices publicly dissenting.

The states argued that the regulation is hindering efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus “by deterring immigrants from accessing healthcare and public benefits that are essential tools for protecting the public.”

The immigration rule has been criticized by immigrant rights advocates as a “wealth test” that would disproportionately keep out non-white immigrants. It is part of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

The court in a brief order said nothing prevents the states from asking a federal district court judge to block the regulation based on the changing circumstances.

The justices also rejected a similar request made by Cook County, Illinois, in a separate case concerning only that state.

In January, before the spread of the coronavirus around the world, the court on a 5-4 vote allowed the policy to go into effect while litigation over its legality continues in lower courts.

The court’s five conservative justices were in the majority and its four liberal justices dissented.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke; Editing by Will Dunham

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