Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says if his immigration policies had been in place in 2001, the Sept. 11 hijackers likely would not have gotten into the U.S. in the first place.
“I am extremely, extremely tough on illegal immigration. I am extremely tough on people coming into this country," Trump told host Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "I believe that if I were running things, I doubt that those people would have been in the country."
Trump’s comments are in response to a suggestion he made during an earlier interview with Bloomberg’s Stephanie Ruhle that then President George W. Bush was partially at fault for the attacks. The billionaire developer insisted Sunday that he is not blaming the former president.
“I’m not blaming George Bush. But I don’t want Jeb to say 'my brother kept us safe' because Sept. 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country," he said. “We lost 3,000 people, it was one of the greatest – probably the greatest catastrophe ever in this country.”
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jeb Bush defended his brother and suggested that Trump was not seriously addressing how he would handle foreign policy if in the White House.
"Across the spectrum of foreign policy, Mr. Trump talks about things as though he's still on 'The Apprentice,'" the former Florida governor said.
He added: “My brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do. He united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe. And there's no denying that. The great majority of Americans believe that."
Jeb Bush's campaign has since released an attack ad lampooning Trump on national security.
All but one of the 19 men who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania legally entered the country on business or tourist visas. One entered on a student visa but did not show up to class.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.