Undocumented immigrant children facing deportation from the United States have no right to a government-appointed lawyers in court, an appeals court rules.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that no legal representation to the minors is guaranteed under US law.
The ruling came in the case of a Honduran boy, who appeared in court on his own.
He was brought to the country by his mother in 2014, when he was only 13 years old.
Human rights advocates rushed to decry the ruling, which could trigger mass deportation of minors.
“If permitted to stand, [the ruling] will result in the deportation of thousands of vulnerable children to some of the most violent places on earth,” Ahilan Arulanantham, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, told Reuters.
Unaccompanied minors, however, might not be subject to the ruling.
According to Judge John Owens, the matter of unaccompanied minors is "a different question that could lead to a different answer."
The administration US President Donald Trump announced in September that it would end a program that has provided protection from deportation and the right to work legally for nearly 800,000 young people since it was authorized by former President Barrack Obama in 2012.
The Republican president has vowed to crack down on immigration but has failed to get his complete agenda through so far.
Since campaigning for the 2016 presidential election, Trump has been accused of stoking racial, ethnic and religious tensions lurking within America.