Despite the global health risks of the coronavirus, the Supreme Court refused Friday to stop the Trump administration from denying green cards to immigrants who use public benefits.

The court's unsigned order denied the request of New York, Connecticut, Vermont and New York City, which contended that the new policy disincentivizing immigrants' use of Medicaid and other benefit programs could lead to the spread of COVID-19.

The justices in January had allowed the policy to take effect despite a series of lower court injunctions that had blocked it. Several cases challenging the policy are pending before federal appeals courts.

Under the Department of Homeland Security rule, legal immigrants receiving or deemed likely to need non-cash benefits for more than a year, such as food stamps, Medicaid or housing vouchers, can be denied residency or green cards.

“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient," President Donald Trump said when the policy was introduced in August.

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Updated: Mon, May 11th 2020 @ 11:40am EDT