I can tell you a lot of horror stories of INS bungling, but I’ll desist for now and point out a post on Ginger Stampley’s blog. She is one of the few bloggers who knows something about immigration issues.
It’s difficult for an alien to follow the law when nobody knows what it is, and the interpretation of the laws and regulation are totally at the discretion (read: whim) of the INS flunky you’re currently dealing with. And even if you follow those instructions in good faith, the next INS flunky you deal with may still throw you in jail or out of the country for failing to meet a different interpretation of the applicable laws and/or regulations.
It’s considered bad form to ask “why do they hate us?”, but it would take a real idiot to miss that the INS’ inept handling of student visas and special registration (among its many other flaws) does not endear the US to anyone who’s had to deal with it, alien or citizen.