Ron Poirier says he is still dealing with the effects of 9/11, 12 years after the devastating terrorist attack in New York City.

Poirier was born in New Brunswick but lived in the U.S. for more than 40 years. He says a minor indiscretion and the continued post-9/11 security crackdown forced him to return to Canada.

“I love America. I was even willing to die for that country,” he says.

Poirier moved to Boston with his family at the age of 10. He got married in Boston and raised a family there, but in 2010, he was caught driving without a licence.

Because he was a permanent U.S. resident and not an American citizen, Poirier was detained.

“There was terrorists with me, where I was for one year,” he says. “Cartel, rapists, child molesters, pedophiles, people that sold great amounts of drugs.”

Poirier says Massachusetts police and the United States Department of Homeland Security used the Patriot Act, and his Canadian citizenship, to deport him three years ago.

He has seen little of his family since.

“I look at the pictures on my wall. I had a granddaughter that was born in July of 2011 and died August 29, 2011. She was premature and I could not return to go bury her.”

David Fraser, a Halifax-based privacy lawyer, says the United States Department of Homeland Security casts a wide net.

“When you start out with a law that broadly cast, inevitably you’re going to be capturing within it much more than the terrorists that might have been the new rallying cry behind the legislation,” says Fraser.

With no family nearby, and other issues that prevent him from working, Poirier says he has few resources to challenge the American security establishment.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell