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Mad Rush MC (real name: Owen Haisley), a stalwart of the Manchester drum & bass scene who has performed at events like the Warehouse Project and Creamfields, is being deported on a charter flight to Jamaica this week.
He has been living in the UK since the age of four, initially arriving in 1977 with his mother on a Jamaican passport. His great aunt was part of the Windrush generation.
As well as being a prolific MC who has worked with the likes of DJ Rap and Aquasky, Mad Rush also worked around Manchester as a youth worker for years. He has lived in the UK for 41 years, and has three young children.
Despite being given indefinite leave to remain, it appears that Mad Rush has been caught up in the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy — the Home Office methodology for ‘catching out’ illegal immigrants. DJ Mag understands that Owen didn’t apply for a British passport, believing — and being advised — that being given indefinite leave to remain was sufficient. His three children are all British citizens.
Mad Rush’s problems started after he was arrested and charged for a domestic abuse incident, which he speaks openly and honestly about in an interview for The Independent.
During the year he spent in prison, he used his time constructively. “I did all the rehabilitation classes, I did anger management, I did restorative justice. I used my time positively and constructively,” he told The Independent.
However, in March 2018 he was detained by UK Immigration and held in a UK Immigration Removal Centre for five months. In June 2018 he was booked on a deportation flight and taken to the airport, with the belief that he would never see the UK — and potentially his British-born young children — again.
His solicitor managed to rush through both Windrush and Right To Remain applications minutes before the removal flight was due to take off. Mad Rush was then released on bail, returning to Manchester to re-engage with voluntary work in the community and re-focus on his music.
Owen’s immigration detainment terms required that he check in every week with Immigration in Manchester. He began taking clothing and personal belongings to these meetings, as he was worried that he may be detained again without warning.
Upon arriving for an immigration check-in in mid-January, he was detained and moved to Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in Middlesex - 200 miles from home. His solicitor has filed further documentation with the Home Office, without response.
Now he’s been informed that he’s being placed on a deportation flight to Jamaica on Wednesday, along with 50 others, and that he will "just have to keep in touch with his children via Skype".
A petition to protest Owen’s forcible removal from the UK has reached close to 10,000 signatures.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, is writing to the Home Office about Owen’s case, and Sacha Lord from Warehouse Project has been vocal in his support of Mad Rush.
Sacha Lord (Night tsar of Manchester and owner/operator of WHP and Parklife) has said, "How is this right? Owen's been part of the scene for as long as I have. Really decent guy...please sign and share..."
The drum & bass scene has also swung behind Mad Rush:
Chase & Status tweeted, 'This is a disgrace - supporting the legend @madrushmc'
Dub Phizix has said: 'I’ve known Owen for a long time and the work he’s done helping young people in this city is momentus. One of the main reasons we such a vibrant music community now is because of people like him'
Children Of Zeus said: 'Manchester and beyond, our brother @madrushmc is facing deportation with 50 others. He’s been here over 30 years and He’ll leave behind 3 children. Please sign the petition at the very least and if you can help in anyway please do what you can'
DJ Mag ran a feature in the middle of last year on the Windrush scandal and the importance of the children of the Windrush generation in building the UK dance scene.
It appears that Mad Rush is the latest to be caught up in this government policy, and that not much has changed since the scandal originally broke in the media last year.