Debris of the World Trade Center following the attack Alex Fuchs/ AFP

A man from New York who risked his life in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks now faces deportation due to a three-decade-old criminal charge.

Carlos Humberto Cardona, 48, was one of more than 41,000 people who were taken into custody by immigration authorities throughout the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.

Since 2000, Cardona has had a removal order hanging over him due to a 1990 conviction for an attempted drug deal.

According to the Daily News, his attorney filed a legal action asking a federal judge to force immigration officials to speed up a decision on a 2014 application that confirms Cardona's marriage to a naturalised citizen. A separate clemency application with was also lodged in New York in April 2017.

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Cardona, who lives in Queens, NY, risked his health to help remove hazardous materials from Ground Zero.

His wife Liliana said: "I can't believe that this is happening to him after all of the sacrifices he has made. He says he feels like he's being treated like a criminal.

"He inhaled fumes [at the World Trade Center site]. His health ended up being affected. He has lung problems. He has gastrointestinal problems. He has psychological issues. He has a lot of anxiety,""

Originally from Colombia, Cardon arrived in the US in 1986 aged 17 to avoid anti-government rebels who had already killed his two brothers.

His attorney Rajesh Barua said: "He's very much an American. He's scared of going back to Colombia. He doesn't know how he'll maintain a living and what kind of treatment he'll have for respiratory problems, which are very real."