Apparently the inequitable trade relationship between the United States and India has (re)captured the president's attention, and he's unhappy about that country's protectionist proclivity toward imposing customs tariffs of up to 100% on some goods.
The president raised U.S. duties on some products imported from India last year (although he then let the duties lapse), and its response was to do the same in turn. But now he's tweeting about the issue once again.
Here is my open letter to the president on this issue:
Dear Mr. President,
Instead of getting into a tit-for-tat squabble over which duties are raised on which products by which country—a kind of endless game in which the winner is never certain—why not aim for the area where India is most vulnerable?
I'm talking about the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Indians who come to the United States as cheap foreign labor under various categories of nonimmigrant work visas, not to mention as foreign students and exchange scholars, many of whom also receive "optional practical training" and other forms of employment authorization that last literally for years. Suspend their entry until India gets the message.
You certainly have the authority to do so. It's the same provision of law that you invoked for your Executive Orders on "Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States", Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the one whose use was so recently upheld by the Supreme Court—
(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
Let's be honest: from India's point of view, these workers are an export commodity as surely as any physical goods they send to our shores. Not only do they displace American workers, but they undoubtedly send millions upon millions of dollars in untaxed remittances home to be used in the Indian economy.
If you're not using all the pawns on your fair-trade chessboard, then you're doing yourself and the country a disservice. Come to think of it, I'll bet China would be paying close attention if you did that with India.